“What I’m out for is a good time; all the rest is propaganda.”
A rebellious lathe worker (Albert Finney) having an affair with the wife (Rachel Roberts) of his clueless co-worker (Bryan Pringle) falls for a beautiful young girl (Shirley Anne Field) who won’t sleep with him unless he’s ready to commit.
Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
- Albert Finney Films
- Love Triangle
- Shirley Anne Field Films
Karel Reisz directed and Tony Richardson produced this adaptation of Alan Sillitoe’s novel, part of the new wave of “kitchen sink realism” hitting British cinema in the late 1950s and early 1960s. It’s notable for Finney’s breakthrough role as a philandering cad who at least stays true to his own morals and priorities throughout; as he describes himself: “I’m a fighting pit prop that wants a pint of beer, that’s me… I’m me and nobody else. Whatever people say I am, that’s what I’m not because they don’t know a bloody thing about me! God knows what I am.”
To its credit, the script doesn’t glorify or gloss over any aspects of Arthur’s existence: he works hard and gladly provides money to his household, understanding that this is an important part of his identity; and when he learns about the predicament he and Roberts have landed in, they are both shown as multi-faceted adults facing the consequences of their actions.
A later interaction between Finney and Pringle also strikes one as unexpectedly and refreshingly honest.
This film remains well worth a look both for Finney and Roberts’ performances, and as a fine example of the “angry young men” genre.
Notable Performances, Qualities, and Moments:
- Albert Finney as Arthur (nominated by Peary as one of the Best Actors of the Year in his Alternate Oscars)
- Rachel Roberts as Brenda
- Freddie Francis’s cinematography
- John Dankworth’s score
Yes, for the lead performances and its historical relevance. Listed as a movie with Historical Importance and a Personal Recommendation in the back of Peary’s book.
- Historically Relevant
- Noteworthy Performance(s)
(Listed in 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die)