This film defines the beginning of the sixties, with Britain emerging out of the long years of postwar austerity, and as such, is useful for students of postwar history as well as cultural studies. More than anything, it depicts, without romanticism, the working class ! The pub scenes and a crowded Blackpool depict a bygone age when youth culture was becoming available to all, technology hadn't wiped out people's jobs and much of the Victorian housing hadn't been cleared in favour of housing blocks.
For people now in their 20s and 30s, this film marks the start of "our time" - which could mean single parenthood, awkward adolescence and materialism - amongst other things... and I'm sure our heroine Jo would make a good mother, in her own way. Does she remind anyone of their own mother? Time has aged this film like a classic wine.
Whilst the film doesn't romanticise the people involved, it is certainly a film with a sweeping romantic current. Expression of this is through the powerful and consuming but often clumsy, doomed relationships depicted in the film. Arguably this is the first and last social(ist) realist love films.
Salford does look pretty grim in this film, littered with smokestacks and factories, but there is so much depth in the performances of Murray Melvin, Rita Tushingham and especially Dora Bryan, that an eventual view of the city emerges as a human, even compassionate place.
Of course if the director and writer had set out to make such an epoch-defining film it wouldn't have happened. But it appears they stumbled into making what I would argue is one of the finest British films ever made.