Despite success on the field, a rising rugby star senses the emerging emptiness of his life as his inner angst begins to materialize through aggression and brutality, so he attempts to woo his landlady in hopes of finding reason to live.
Arthur, one of Britain's angry young men of the 1960s, is a hardworking factory worker who slaves all week at his mindless job for his modest wages. Come Saturday night, he's off to the pub for a loud and rowdy beer session. With him is Brenda, his girlfriend of the moment. Married to a fellow worker, she is nonetheless captivated by his rugged good looks and his devil-may-care attitude. Soon a new love interest Doreen enters and a week later, Brenda announces she's pregnant. She tells Arthur she needs money for an abortion, and Arthur promises to pay for it. By this time, his relationship with Doreen has ripened and Brenda, hearing of it, confronts him. He denies everything, but it's obvious that their affair is all but over. Written by
I first saw this film during its original u.s. run in 1961, loved it, and jumped at the chance to see it again at a local revival movie house. The movie is justly famous for Finney's brilliant performance (I think it was his first.), but has other virtues as well. Karel Reisz and Freddie Francis succeed in making the film visually interesting, and it is well paced, with essentially no dead time.
The thing that deserves the most praise, however, is Sillitoe's script, which puts virtually all modern dramatic screenplays to shame. In a general way, the working class british films of the late 50s and 60s launched the tradition that leads to Loach, Leigh, Tim Roth, etc. This film's subtlety and ambivalence towards its leading character reminds me specifically of Mike Leigh at his very best.
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