A Kind of Loving (1962)
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It is of course part of the special "Angry Young Man" genre that includes Billy Liar, The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner, The Entertainer, Darling, A Taste of Honey, This Sporting Life, Look Back in Anger, Room at the Top, Saturday Night and Sunday Morning - and in later years, In Celebration and The Homecoming.
Such novelists/playwrights as John Braine, Alan Sillitoe, David Storey, John Osborne, Arnold Wesker, John Wain, Shelagh Delaney, directors like Karel Reisz, John Schlesinger, Lindsay Anderson and Tony Richardson, and such screenwriters as Waterhouse and Hall (who wrote this as Billy Liar).
The movies are primarily about men trapped by place and morality -- and either lashing out/escaping or trying to accommodate themselves to their situation. Most are set in the north of England - all are about people from working class backgrounds.
Stars like Richard Harris, Julie Christie, Alan Bates, Ian Holm, Albert Finney, and Tom Courtenay broke in their film teeth with these movies - and others such as Richard Burton, Lawrence Olivier, Laurence Harvey and Dirk Bogarde revealed their expansive range.
The protagonists are often not likable - certainly the pitiful Archie Rice in The Entertainer, Burton's character in Look Back in Anger, Finney's in Saturday Night and Sunday Morning, Courtenay's character in "Long Distance Runner" or Richard Harris' character -- are all people you'd rather not accompany on a long train journey.
However, Vic Brown, the protagonist in this one - is largely sympathetic (and wonderfully written and portrayed). His plight is just so realistic - and the consequences so easy to believe.
There are many things that our lad gets wrong - unable to break things off with a woman, he simply ignores her (and speaks badly of her to others) - yet is helpless when she suggests they get together again. In part, this is because his lust masters him - and in part because he just can't bear to tell someone he no longer wants to see her.
As awful as most audiences will find Ingrid's mother (wonderfully played), one can also have sympathy for her - a widow overly protective of her only child, and the circumstances in which her child finds herself.
The modesty of the characters is wonderful yet not overly done - it is the characteristic that yields immense sympathy in the viewer - this is especially true of the Brown family - from "our Christine" and her gentle husband to Vic's wonderful father and brother to his forceful mother.
Most of the reviews speak of this very much as a look back in time - I think it's not so past.
The themes are universal and timeless: lust and its consequences, indecision about a romantic partner, the division between a young person's caution about taking the right steps in life and closeness to family vs. inchoate yearnings to do great things far away - these are the stuff of such plays as The Fantasticks and such movies as It's a Wonderful Life. (Donna Reed's character wanted Jimmy Stewart's no less than Ingrid wanted Vic - and both men had dreamt to be far away doing great things).
This is wonderful - it will strike anyone as sharply observed, wonderfully written - and very moving.
A real intimate portrait of life in the early 60s in England. Displaying the kind of innocence of that time which we now look back on and wryly smile.
But here we have an truth which can only be gained by a cross-section of life at that time. The scenes of the factory work environment, catching public transport, the pubs, even the intimacies of home life.
I'm so glad it was filmed in B&W as it emphasized too well the drear lives that people at that time were enduring. (English weather ... gotta love it.) The whole film seemed to be a spiraling downwards right to the end, until there was that tiny (tiny!) upturn at the end ... so things may not be that bad after all? Personally I reckon the recover of this doomed relationship would be short-lived.
Thora Hird ... what can I say. The only comparable mother in law I can remember was Ethel Merman in It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World. 10 out of 10 Thora.
And Alan Bates ... what a wonderful performance. Restrained yet so powerful, in a role that would have been so hard to display such strength.
Hire it, buy it ... but make sure you get to see it.
On the production side, the script, taken from Barstow's novel by those two stalwarts, Waterhouse and Hall, is bang on target; the photography, never less than excellent, is often breathtaking, as in the wonderful long shot of a romantic couple on Southport beach, gradually withdrawing into the confines of a hotel bedroom. But the usually reliable Ron Grainer doesn't quite seem to know where he's going with the music.
The performances are wonderful. The Brown family is lovingly portrayed with the lightest of touches, with particular praise earned by those two veterans, Gwen Nelson and Bert Palmer, as the parents. In the workplace, a fine group of actors, a number of whom were to become household names in the UK in later years, show their true mettle. And leading them all, that magnificent trio of Thora Hird, June Ritchie and Alan Bates.
Of Bates, a fine actor, who left a legacy of performances on film, there's no need to say much: he's perfect for the role, gets under its skin, reveals the longings, the confusions, the contradictions, the lovability, the vulnerability and the folly. No one could ask for more or better.
Thora Hird went on to enjoy a considerable Indian summer of success under the wing of the playwright Alan Bennett, but in spite of some remarkable work during those years, it's at least arguable that she never did anything on screen as intensely realised as Mrs Rothwell. Hird ensures that she is never a figure of fun or a caricature - indeed, she is often very touching in her protectiveness towards her daughter - but at the same time she gives the comic side of the character full value.
June Ritchie is absolutely wonderful as Ingrid. She may never have become the star that, say, Julie Christie (somewhat unwillingly) became, but she was and still is a remarkable actress, worthy of the greatest of respect for her achievement here. In a remarkable way, she fulfils all that was required of a Hitchcock blond: cool on the outside, with fire inside. In fact there's a moment early in the film where she is photographed from Vic's point of view, from behind and slightly above, with a hairdo reminiscent of Kim Novak's in Vertigo. One wonders whether the movie-going that was so evidently part of life in the town spills over into Vic's imagination at this point.
This is the work of a director who seems to have fallen out of favour in recent years, and there is a case to be made that he somehow lost his way. But A Kind of Loving is one of a trio of films, along with Billy Liar and Sunday Bloody Sunday, of which any director could be proud. Of the rest of his output, perhaps only his final collaboration with Alan Bates, An Englishman Abroad, has the same balance of clear observation and compassion.
I don't believe I had ever seen a "kitchen sink/angry young man" film, much less really heard of the genre at that point. But this film introduced me to the whole period, and I rather like many of them. But in my opinion, this one is absolutely the best. As another reviewer on IMDb commented here, Vic Brown's character is probably the most sympathetic among various "angry young man" protagonists. Though some may feel that this film is outdated and that the characters are in a way too innocent (perhaps for their ages), it is a very charming, sensitive, realistic, and empathetic portrayal of young-adult love. As dark and dreary and claustrophobic as many of the scenes are, I somehow fell completely in love with England, the 60's (well, I've always loved almost everything from the 60's, even though I can really only enjoy them vicariously, since I was born during this decade), and certainly, Alan Bates. He is a stunner in this film and, as I soon found out, in all his films. This film prompted me to rent or buy anything of his I could find (check out "A Whistle Down the Wind"...a different film altogether...not a kitchen sink drama...but wonderful).
But far aside from his good looks, this story is so poignant. You so feel for the characters of Vic and Ingrid, and even her on-the-surface-witch of a mother. Their reactions are so realistic throughout. Even Vic's initial reaction to ignore Ingrid after their first few dates, then offer to marry her after her predicament, is so touching. You can see that these young souls are choosing a path that they think is the "right thing to do", but in the process, are giving up, before your very eyes, all their dreams. The look of sadness on both of their young lovely faces as they trod through many of their days, living with her mother (GREAT portrayal by Thora Hird...and BOY did she look like my paternal grandmother...my mother couldn't believe it when she saw the film), and their attempts to find happiness in their situation and make the best of it are just a bit heart wrenching. Their arguments were so realistic. For instance, Ingrid's insistence that they live in a "nice place", having been accustomed to living in a cushioned environment by living with her mother in her family home juxtaposed with Vic's wanting to just get out and find something of their own, no matter how low-rent the home might be....it just reinforces the fact that people shouldn't even bother getting together, much less have children, until they're ready....both financially and emotionally. I just saw a long, struggling road ahead for them...but you certainly hope it all works out. They are two young souls sideswiped by a most major event imposed upon them long before they are ready to handle it, but they muddle through it.
Alan Bates and June Ritchie deliver first-rate performances from start to finish, and are accompanied by a wonderful supporting cast. I also loved the little bits of music, typically used as a transitional element. I remember a little transitional scene in which Alan Bates is simply running across the street as the quiet music score, including the lead melody of a single flute, plays in the background. With backdrops that range from dreary urban streets to the "nicer" section of town homes in which Ingrid lives to the wonderfully hilly and misty English countryside, I simply fell in love with everything about this beautiful, thoughtful, quiet, and touching story. I need to get it on DVD before my tapes wear out. It's one of my two favorite films, with the other one being "The Pumpkin Eater" (another English classic, from 1964, but not a kitchen sink drama...check it out as well).
Find "A Kind of Loving", and enjoy.
The black and white enhances the dramatic landscapes and atmosphere.
My favourite scene is the railway station where Vic hits rock bottom.
I also like the shelter scene as Vic pushes his luck and the picture pans back to the carved inscriptions.
It makes me wish I had been born in those times, with community spirit, dance halls and pubs with conversation for entertainment, football terraces and steam trains.
It is also interesting to spot so many young actors who found later fame such as "Nora Batty", James Bolam, Leonardo rossiter etc.
Alan Bates is Vic Brown, a lad dissatisfied with his lot, who wants to break away from Lancashire to go and see the world, do things, and make something of himself. June Ritchie is Ingrid Rothwell, who after a few fumbles in a bus shelter and a painfully acute quickie traps him into staying put.
Beautifully observed performances from both leads ensure this film is unmissable. As a small Northern tragedy in many ways, it shows a snapshot of a more innocent time and what could easily happen when the heart rules the head. Ingrid's overbearing mother (played by the brilliant Thora Hird) thinks Vic is nowhere near good enough for her daughter - Ingrid is set for better things, not marriage and babies with such as he.
There are lesser characters of interest too - Vic's little brother, his married sister and her husband, his parents, his friends in the local boozer. You can see both the life he wants to escape to and equally why he will stay.
It is also a snapshot of what happens when young love dies. Vic and Ingrid's plight will stay in your mind a long time after you see this perceptive, humorous, and moving film.
Alan Bates stars as Vic, a young and naïve north country lad working straight out of school as a trainee draftsman. Out of boredom and a lack of real direction, he links up with an attractive, conventional young girl from the office named Ingrid who is eager to get married (played by June Ritchie). Instead she gets pregnant. Bates is afraid of the responsibility of looking after her and the child as this will seriously curtail his freedom as a single man. He is forced to marry her but they cannot afford a place of their own and make the mistake of moving in with her mother. Whilst waiting for their baby's birth the three of them do not manage to get along; Ritchie realises her mistake in not siding with Bates against her mother when they argue. The only hope that Vic and Ingrid have of remaining together is that they reconcile themselves to a more realistic kind of relationship.
This is a fine example of 60's English cinema, which saw a re-emergence at this time with a number of directors starting out on their careers and going to Hollywood later, on the coat-tails of their achievements closer to home. John Schlesinger doesn't seem to do much, except to ensure that the camera is pointed in the right place at the right time, so that a realistic and human story will be revealed with the best possible impact. June Ritchie dropped out of sight but Alan Bates went onto to a distinguished career in film, on stage and television. He is really marvellous, and gives a perceptive performance of a young man questioning his place in society but having no idea of what the alternative might be. The rituals are simple to perform: going out and getting drunk with your mates, seducing girls, going to work, often at a job that you may not even like. But what is else is there to do? This is a very human dilemma and Bates is perfect without making the character either an obnoxious bully or a mewling mummy's boy. Thora Hird is excellent as Ingrid's mother who either cannot or will not see that she is being too over protective of her daughter. Bates dominates this film with a performance which was a preview of things to come for his many fans, but I think that this early effort is one of his best films.
Everyone else in the cast distinguish themselves and a film like 'A Kind of Loving' will stay in your mind as a really wonderful film entirely worthy of its reputation and also of your time.
You can feel her loathing. Some great support from Jack Smethhurst and the always excellent James Bolam. The scene that I favour is where Vic is getting bored with his situation and tries to get sympathy from his sister, his sister suddenly turns on him and tells him to get his life sorted, made bed lie on it etc. An absolutely fantastic slice of early 1960,s life.
A Kind of Loving was John Schlesinger's first feature film, a 'kitchen sink' drama based on a novel by Stan Barstow. Great screenplay (co- written by Keith Waterhouse, no less) and a thoroughly accomplished performance by Alan Bates, as always.
I wouldn't recommend this film to anyone unable to appreciate a healthy doze of reality. No Hollywood glitz and glamour here.
Schlesinger treats the film subject matter (a couple in lust) with warmth, humour - and without a hint of condescension.
THIS FILM IS DEFINITELY WORTH A LOOK.
I wouldn't presume our relationship to be all that common but it does fall rather snuggly into a familiar notion. So familiar in fact that it's almost taken for granted; you're with the person you're with because you love them. That assertion however, isn't all that old. It's only been about a century since romantic love took the driver's seat from things like financial stability, social standing, family arrangement and the big ones, race and religion. And it can be argued that our more modern take on love and marriage is yet another evolution.
For Vic Brown (Bates), a twenty-something draughtsman from Manchester, marriage is about the farthest thing from his mind, whether for love or otherwise. He's more concerned with the trappings of his age like hanging with raucous friends, drinking in boozy pubs, and dating with the vague promise of carnal pleasures. Vic yens for that last part more than most. He even carries around a nudie magazine with him as a symbol of his prurient desires.
Despite this, A Kind of Loving's plot comes across as outwardly wholesome, at least to start. Based on a novel by Stan Bartow, Vic soon falls for Ingrid (Ritchie), a local beauty whose outward cheeriness and unsure demurrals hides a naivety that serves as a lynchpin for the story's emotional core. She's not right for him; nor him for her, but they go through the motions of going to late-night movies, necking behind alleyway fences and whispering sweet nothings into each other's ears.
They inevitably discover sex; a breakthrough in their relationship that only further inserts expectations and pressures from outside forces. What follows beyond that point is a wrought, melancholy downward spiral into the kind of loving that most young people are trying to avoid; the kind where the passive-aggressive behaviors of our two flawed protagonists, strains and limps as the story wears on.
At the time of its release, director John Schlesinger's first foray into "Kitchen-sink" realism must have turned some heads. It's unabashedly youth-centric, often feeling like a worse-case scenario in the way it approaches the clichés of hen-pecked masculinity, tensions between the generations and downward mobility. Moralizing about lust and rebellion are often tempered by frank discussion of birth control and a mature worldview that explores not just the psychology of sex but what it means in a large societal context. Not to mention the moments of abrupt sexuality would never find their way into some flaccid PSA about the dangers of whoopee.
Yet even with its unvarnished view of romance and a heavy dollop of humanity, A Kind of Loving can't help but feel a bit episodic and a little more than melodramatic. Many of the film's earth-shattering plot points felt broad and one-note, testing the patience of its audience and forcing them to beg the question, why can't Ingrid and Vic just talk out their problems? The issue isn't helped by Willis Hall's and Keith Waterhouse's screenplay which turns the rich characterizations of key characters, including Vic's friend Christine (Keen) into walking clichés of, "I told you so." That said, A Kind of Loving is still a very compelling cultural artifact that questioned the moral compass of the time while foretelling in its own way, an upcoming sexual revolution. It's also one heck of a first feature for John Schlesinger, who would utilize similar themes in movies like Billy Liar (1963), Darling (1965) and Midnight Cowboy (1969). Here however, I'd argue Schlesinger is at his most authentic.
Vic Brown (Alan Bates) is a well-liked and wholesome young draftsman from a good family. His father, mother, and recently-married sister all see him as moving up and doing well in his field; his younger brother looks up to him and asks his advice about girls. When Vic meets a young typist, Ingrid Rothwell (June Ritchie), from the office, he can't take his eyes off of her and the two fall head over heals in love with each other.
After a brief courtship, Vic starts to have second thoughts about Ingrid and starts seeing other girls. But, Ingrid (now totally in love with Vic) starts to worry that Vic no longer loves her. The two start dating again and finally have sex (both of them for the first time). Even this is cute since it shows more realism (for the time) than the instant gratification we see in the films and TV of today.
Of course, the inevitable film story occurs when she becomes pregnant by him and they are forced to get married. How sad both families look during Vic and Ingrid's civil marriage; how different their marriage ceremony is from the one that opened the film, that of Vic's sister in a huge church wedding with all the trimmings!
Vic is doing well at work, but not well enough to support a family quite yet. So, the newly married couple makes the fatal mistake of moving in with Ingrid's mother, Mrs. Rothwell, expertly realized as the mother-in- law from hell by Thora Hird. When they move it to HER house, Vic finds himself as the interloper in the house and ultimately in his own marriage, constantly being nagged and badgered (or, worse yet, totally ignored) by Ingrid and her mother. He does the 'slow burn' for the sake of his marriage and the soon- to-arrive baby.
One day, while arriving home from work, Vic learns that Ingrid has been rushed to the hospital; when he gets to the hospital, he leans that she had a miscarriage while falling down the stairs. Vic hadn't been informed about either until he gets to the hospital where his mother-in- law stares daggers at him (for whatever he did or did not do..to cause this miscarriage).
Several weeks after the miscarriage, things only get worse when he tries to have sex with her and she begs off, claiming it might hurt her too close to the miscarriage. This is a similar to an earlier scene in the film when he tries to have intercourse with her (after they had been married) and she begs off, feeling that it might hurt the baby. In the earlier scene, he has to prove that sex would NOT hurt the baby by showing her a chapter from a marriage manual he had purchased before their marriage.
Ingrid seems unable to confront her mother to save her marriage, and Vic gets no help from HIS family either. The kitchen-sink realism of this story has a bittersweet ending when the couple finally decides what to do about their marriage. Parts of this film may seem dated by today's standards. However, it engagingly tackles very REAL problems that did— and probably still do--happen to young couples who have to make difficult choices.
I'm not old enough to have seen this film when it came out (not even having been thought of, let alone born!) and so, it isn't until a full half century later that I first lay eyes on it. It had a lot of hype and praise to live up to; my film 'bible', Halliwell's massive film guide praise it to the rafters, as do many critics.
Many have gone into detail over plot and all that, which basically means that I won't...But, having seen pretty well all the other British socio- realist films in black & white, this is more gentle, less dramatic and ultimately more authentic. For drama, there's little to beat This Sporting Life and for social diversity, A Taste of Honey is more colourful.
In many ways, the narrative runs like a novel, where you can read the descriptions of all the little details, like travelling on buses, people pushing past you in the cinema, buying sweet from a late-night booth and all that. It's about the journey there, into the scenes and not just landing in them and saying, 'here we are'.
The story, also, is rather unexceptional. Far from boring, though but I'm sure this allowed more people to identify with it and feel a part of it. Most, I'm sure could easily distance themselves from the rugby playing Richard Harris in This Sporting Life, but Alan Bates, here, could be several million young men, all over the country. He doesn't act, or come across as being "northern", either and by most people's standards is very normal. Finding himself in the predicament that he does, to today's audiences smacks of almost naive innocence, but 50 years ago, was a very different state of affairs. That it could happen to such a nice, ordinary chap and in such an ordinary nice and ordinary way...
I'm talking of him getting his co-star, June Ritchie, a typist where he works, pregnant, of course. Thora Hird, always a pleasure to watch and always playing a larger than life character is June's Mum and Mum's being Mum's is both protective and ultimately damaging toward her daughter. Her character is typical of how we now perceive a strong northern mother to be, strong-willed, outspoken and more than a little bit bossy - and yes, talks a lot.
What particularly gave me pleasure was seeing all these other character actors, mostly in sitcoms and not-so-brilliant comedies in the '70's and '80s, when I was growing up, here in their fresh-faced youth. From James Bolam to Leonard Rossiter, plus many more whose faces I cannot, in hindsight put a name to.
There's no doubting that A Kind Of Loving will withstand - and benefit from, repeated viewings. It didn't beat its chest and browbeat me into saying how good it was, it let me decide that for myself. Which is good, very good....
The social milieu of the new wave of British realism in the 50's and 60's is often marked by stark photography, aimless human lives and strict social mores. This one is part of that genre. Class clearly was at the core of this brand of cinema and the entrapment that many working class people found themselves in.
Possibly motivated by the need to expose these class distinctions, director, John Schlesinger, (and others like Tony Richardson) did not hesitate to show the fate of those on the other side of the tracks, often set in towns and cities of Northern England.
It is noteworthy to see the portrayal of a young man who gives up his dreams (travel and career) to marry his pregnant girlfriend. In an age when males are often portrayed as cads, this film is a fitting counterpoint. Being badgered by both wife and mother-in-law is what he gets for fulfilling his social obligation.
The role of Vic Brown is played by Alan Bates in one of his earliest roles. This actor, who died only a few years ago, left a strong film legacy along with many of his contemporaries...Richard Harris, Albert Finney, Tom Courtenay, Rachel Roberts, and some others. Bates gives a fine character portrayal that is well worth watching 45 years on.
"How dare you! How dare you say such filthy, disgusting things! You come into this house drunk, filthy drunk! You're filthy! You talk filth, you are filth! You're filth! You filthy pig! You filthy, disgusting pig! Filth, filth! "
There is a foreboding quality to this film. Years after its 1962 appearance, it is as if Schlesinger is warning of the dangers of a certain kind of British-ness: Thora Hird's domineering widow matriarch (Mrs Rothwell) is mean spirited, narrow minded and contemptuous of working class people. Her ignorance finds an unbridled voice in the undesirable relationship that transpires between her only child and an upwardly mobile, white-collar draughtsman. Her objection to him, his working class family, the world around her, and her imperious insistence that miners (and such) have more than they deserve- even though it is she who has it easy in her sizeable well furnished home – anticipates the frightful likes of Thatcher and Whitehouse who bedevilled the British Isles in the eighties with their totalitarian tendencies masquerading as decency and propriety. It is a pleasure to watch Alan Bates' Vic Brown vomit on her carpet. The casting in this film is punctilious: every actor, it seems, brings fascinating qualities to their screen time, even if it is the economically deployed Leonard Rossiter (Whymper) with his fleeting, scene stealing gurns. Alan Bates is such a dish and so likable that he elicits sympathy where Albert Finney's Arthur Seaton can't. I wanted the relationship to work out for him: his perplexed discovery of mixed emotional feelings is touching and his struggles with convention and his own libido maintained my sympathy. June Ritchie's (Ingrid Rothwell) voluptuous motor-mouth is unfortunately her mother's only daughter, but still just amiable enough for me to wish her well. Bert Palmer as Mr Brown, Vic's dad, has the best lines and is another highly memorable participant. There is a marvellously timed moment when Vic, in the flushes of romantic excitement, skips down the stone stairs to his street just as the streetlights illuminate. Schlesinger likes his characters; you get that sense. Optimistic and reassuring.