No Love for Johnny (1961): Peter Finch Dominates as Troubled British Politician

Peter Finch won two awards –from BAFTA and Berlin Film Fest–for his performance No Love for Johnny, a black and white political melodrama, directed by Ralph Thomas and based on the book of the same title by Parliament member Wilfred Fienburgh.

Johnnie Byrne, 42, is re-elected as member of the ruling Labor Party but he is not invited to join the Government. After his wife leaves him, he joins a conspiratorial group working against the government.

Personal life is not much more rewarding. Mary (Billie Whitelaw), his upstairs neighbor likes him, but Johnnie falls for a young student and model named Pauline (Mary Beach), and his lust for her makes him miss a speech at an important session.

Meanwhile, his conspirators turn against him and he barely escapes a vote of no-confidence in his constituency. Desperate, he searches for Pauline, though deep down he knows it is not going to work.  Back home, his wife claims she is wiling to have a second try, handing him her phone number.

When the Prime Minister (Geoffrey Keen) offers him a post, he explained that Johnnie has been denied a post the first time around because of his wife’s communist background.

In the end, Johnnie gives up a second chance at marriage for a seemingly brighter government career. In the very last scene, Johnnie tears up the paper with his wife’s telephone number, places his feet on the desk and embraces politics.

The score by Oscar winner Malcolm (“The Bridge on the River Kwai”) Aronold bears some similarities with that of “Whistle Down the Wind,” which he also composed the same year.