Saturday Night and Sunday Morning (1960): Albert Finney Shines as Young Angry Man in Reisz British Drama

A highlight of the New British Cinema (also known as kitchen sink realism), Karel Reisz’s Saturday Night and Sunday Morning centers on a young, angry working class lad, Arthur Seaton, played in a mesmerizing, fully-realized performance by Albert Finney.

As a screen character, Arthur belongs to the same universe as the belligerent protagonists of Look Back in Anger, made in 1958 by Tony Richardson and starring the young Richard Burton, and the future movie Alfie, in 1966, which catapulted Michael Caine to major stardom.

Stuck with a dead-end job and emotionally suffocated in his grim and grey neighborhood, Arthur is a selfish guy whose motto (sort of philosophy of life) can be summed up as: “All I want is a good time, the rest is propaganda.”

Arthur lives a dreary life during the week so that he can have a good time over the weekend, which is defined by hard drinking, arguing and brawling and courting women.  Hedonistic to a fault, and lacking basic values, he gets into an affair with Brenda (Rachel Roberts), the wife of his co-worker (Bryan Pringle). His efforts to secure her an abortion when he gets her pregnant stem not out of concern for her but out of his own selfishness: why should he be tied down with a nagging, bitter, middle-aged woman.

But then he meets and falls for a younger, nicer and attractive woman from his own neighborhood, Doreen (Shirley Ann Field), who may or may nor represent a brighter, more hopeful future.

The film ends on an ambiguous note: Despite his carousing and his ongoing desire to escape the dull routine of his weekdays, Arthur might be doomed to perpetuate that routine through his marriage and settling down with Doreen.

The movie is fittingly in black and white, but the central character is colorful, to say the least; the term raging bull might have been invented for him. As the inherently defiant Arthur, Finney gives such a smashingly dominant performance that he makes Arthur a more sympathetic character, loathsome and likable in equal measure.

Directed by Karel Reisz

Running time: 90 Minutes