Directed by Karel Reisz and adapted from his own novel by Alan Sillitoe, the 1960 British film Saturday Night and Sunday Morning features the great Albert Finney in an absolutely phenomenal lead performance, playing a hard-working and even harder partying factory worker who spends most of his free time engaging in an affair with a married woman (Rachel Roberts, superb), getting involved with a sexually reluctant pseudo-girlfriend (the excellent Shirley Anne Field), and frequenting his favorite pubs in an effort to avoid the married middle-class lifestyle that he so firmly rejects. Things get very complicated when the married woman he’s seeing ends up getting pregnant, thus putting him in a very interesting spot, given that her husband also works with him at the machinery, and takes rather violent exception to the infidelity.
Issues of class distinction, sex, abortion, marriage, and the notion of what constitutes a “traditional lifestyle” are explored in a very intelligent and layered manner. Freddie Francis’ silky black and white cinematography meshed perfectly with John Dankworth’s pensive musical score. The film became a sizable hit in British cinemas, and is seen as one of the early efforts of the British New Wave of filmmaking. Reisz’s eclectic resume includes the grotesquely underrated Who’ll Stop the Rain, The Gambler, Everybody Wins, Sweet Dreams, and The French Lieutenant’s Woman. Prolific and influential producer Tony Richardson oversaw the production of Saturday Night, Sunday Morning, and also directed, amongst other films, the amazing Jack Nicholson film The Border, The Hotel New Hampshire, Blue Sky, Tom Jones, Ned Kelly, and The Entertainer. Available on DVD.