A movie log formerly known as Bookishness / By Charles Matthews

"Dazzled by so many and such marvelous inventions, the people of Macondo ... became indignant over the living images that the prosperous merchant Bruno Crespi projected in the theater with the lion-head ticket windows, for a character who had died and was buried in one film and for whose misfortune tears had been shed would reappear alive and transformed into an Arab in the next one. The audience, who had paid two cents apiece to share the difficulties of the actors, would not tolerate that outlandish fraud and they broke up the seats. The mayor, at the urging of Bruno Crespi, explained in a proclamation that the cinema was a machine of illusions that did not merit the emotional outbursts of the audience. With that discouraging explanation many ... decided not to return to the movies, considering that they already had too many troubles of their own to weep over the acted-out misfortunes of imaginary beings."
--Gabriel García Márquez, One Hundred Years of Solitude

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Saturday Night and Sunday Morning (Karel Reisz, 1960)

Albert Finney in Saturday Night and Sunday Morning
Arthur: Albert Finney
Doreen: Shirley Anne Field
Brenda: Rachel Roberts
Aunt Ada: Hylda Baker
Bert: Norman Rossington
Jack: Bryan Pringle
Robboe: Robert Cawdron
Mrs. Bull: Edna Morris
Mrs. Seaton: Elsie Wagstaff
Mr. Seaton: Frank Pettit
Blousy Woman: Avis Bunnage
Loudmouth: Colin Blakely
Doreen's Mother: Irene Richmond

Director: Karel Reisz
Screenplay: Alan Sillitoe
Based on a novel by Alan Sillitoe
Cinematography: Freddie Francis
Art direction: Edward Marshall
Music: John Dankworth

The 24-year-old Albert Finney was spot-on casting for the antihero of Alan Sillitoe's adaptation of his novel, Saturday Night and Sunday Morning. With his slicked-up coif, predatory grin, and omnipresent cigarette, Finney's Arthur Seaton exudes the kind of sexual attractiveness that allows one to ignore his rough edges. Always on the prowl, Arthur is the quintessential working-class yobbo, drinking too much and sleeping around too carelessly. He gets his comeuppance when Brenda, married to the stodgy Jack, becomes pregnant -- Jack's sexual neglect makes her sure the child is Arthur's -- and Jack's brother and another soldier work Arthur over in a vacant lot. Meanwhile, he has fallen for Doreen, and the film ends with Arthur and Doreen on a hillside overlooking their factory town, planning a wedding and dreaming of a home of their own. But from what we've seen of Arthur, this is almost a parody of a happy ending. Doreen's a tough cookie, too, and we can only foresee a kind of grim muddling-through future, a recapitulation of the lives of their parents and neighbors. It's to the credit of Finney and a superb supporting cast that the film is not a dreary slog through blighted lives, but a kind of tribute to the persistent energy of the working class. It helps that the movie is filmed by the great Freddie Francis, who finds a rich palette of grays in the surroundings, and provides a needed burst of action in the fairgrounds sequence. But above all, it's Finney's show, launching one of the great movie careers, from rakish young leading man to invaluable character actor.

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