This is one of the great films of that interregnal, hard-to-define and somewhat elusive period that followed the traditional stiff-upper-lip cinema of the post-war period, but came before the new wave films of the so-called "swinging 60s", with all its connotations of female emancipation and free love (all bogus hypocritical rubbish in hindsight, of course, but let's not go there for now). It's rather like "A Kind of Loving" (made five years later, in 1962) in that it dealt with the grubby realities of life, and was thus part of the genre known as the "Kitchen Sink" drama.
The plot is simplicity itself. Jim Preston (Anthony Quayle) is the middle-aged husband of the dowdy Amy (played by Yvonne Mitchell, a now-forgotten but truly wonderful actress) who, fed up with his monotonous life, has an affair with Georgie Harlow (Sylvia Sims) and prepares to leave home for her. Amy does her best to get Jim to stay, trying to make herself glamorous in order to attract him back to the family home (she spends money she can't afford on a hairdo that is ruined by the rain), but all to no avail - he is determined to go. Amy, resigned to her abandonment, meets Georgie and tells her, above all, to smother Jim's food with tomato sauce, as no matter what he is given he drowns everything in it. At the last minute, Jim decides to stay, as he realises that he is just chasing a dream, and that his true place (and fate) is to stay home with his wife and son.
It's the kind of film that it would be impossible to make now - anyone attempting to deal with the drab verities in such an unsparing way would be unable to resist lapsing into comedic parody and send-up. But it is a film, shot in grainy black-and-white, that has an unsparing honesty about it, rather like "A Kind of Loving", and it is absolutely heart-wrenching to watch. Your heart goes out to the despairing Amy as she does her sad best to try and make Jim stay, especially as he stays not because of her, but because he realises that he, too, in his way, is as drab and flattened by life as she is, and that the glamorous Georgie will not stay with him for the long-haul. It's not a film to watch if you want cheering up, but then it wasn't meant to be. It's a remnant of a vanished era, and they truly don't make them like that any more - more's the pity. Our frivolous age could do with a shot of honesty like this; we won't get it from Vin Diesel or Big Brother. Do yourself a favour and watch it.