Alan Sillitoe's novel is produced, directed and acted with integrity and insight. This is a good, absorbing but not very likeable film.
Alan Sillitoe’s novel is produced, directed and acted with integrity and insight. This is a good, absorbing but not very likeable film.
The hero is a Nottingham factory worker who refuses to conform. He hates all authority but protests so blunderingly. His attitude is simple: ‘What I want is a good time. The remainder is all propaganda.’ Through the week he works hard at his lathe. In his spare time – Saturday night and Sunday morning (and a couple of evenings) – he comes into his own. Liquor and women.
Sillitoe does a good job with his first screenplay, though, necessarily, much of the motive and the thinking of his characters has been lost in the adaptation. Director Karel Reisz’ experience in documentaries enables him to bring a sharp tang and authenticity to the film. The locations and the interiors have caught the full atmosphere of a Midland industrial town.
The central figure is cocky, violent and selfish, yet at times almost pathetically likeable. Albert Finney, in his first major screen performance, handles scenes of belligerence and one or two love scenes with complete confidence and is equally effective in quieter moments. On a par is the performance of Rachel Roberts as the married woman carrying on a hopeless affair with Finney. Shirley Anne Field, as the conventional young woman who eventually snares Finney, is appropriately pert.