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4.4 out of 5 stars30
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42 of 42 people found the following review helpful
on 22 December 2004
"Sunday, Bloody Sunday" was one of the most acclaimed adult dramas of the early 70s, and one of the first major films to address gay relationships. Murray Head stars as a young hippie in simultaneous relationships with physician Peter Finch and businesswoman Glenda Jackson. Finch and Jackson know about each other, and they even share some mutual acquaintances. Needless to say, even though Finch and Jackson are completely enamored of the young man, they're also both frustrated with his inability to give more or commit himself. The film explores these relationships over a tumultuous week.
The film was directed by John Schlesinger as his follow-up to the Oscar-winning "Midnight Cowboy." It's a solid drama of obvious interest for its early, relatively non-judgmental depiction of a gay relationship. Of note, the relationships are handled with sensitivity but are also interesting and complex. The Penelope Gilliatt-penned script (her only film) is top-notch and received numerous awards (National Society of Film Critics, Writers Guild of America) as well as an Oscar nomination.
Finch and Jackson turn in very good performances, which were rewarded with Oscar nominations. Although Murray Head's performance is often criticized for being bland, I think that his cipher-like qualities works well here; you're not supposed to fully understand exactly what Jackson or Finch see in him. Although it's reflective of its era, the film holds up fairly well. Overall, "Sunday, Bloody Sunday" is an interesting exploration of adult relationships - straight or gay.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
Seen from the the early 21st century, this film has lost none of its appeal; it is a slow, measured and above all sympathetic portrayel of a society in transformation. It is as powerful about the emergent politics of 1970s as it is about sexuality and relationships. It is beautifully and elegantly made, each frame packed with incidental detail, Antonioni-esque in some of its documentary style touches (the asides of girls of rollers skates, the boys keying cars parked near Highgate; the cigarcase with Churchillian chimes). Choreographed between Jackson and Finch's minimalist yet gripping characters is Head's quite astounding performance as the beautiful and yet vacuous artist. His sensuality is quite remarkable; a real triumph still in an age which is less concerned (although at times still as anxious) in depicting same sex relations to a main stream audience. Never `explicit' (in the worst meaning of the word), the eroticism of Head is perfect, the exploration of compromise is carefully drawn. Schesinger's direction does not judge or condemn, it reveals without rushing and with an almost clinical eye to the zeitgeist of an era, smoking at all opportunites, no apparant central heating, a telephone exchange messaging service, and an undertone of economic decline and crisis.

I cannot recommend this film to much. So many of the asides, caught as it were out of the corner of the camera's eye, are priceless, but what I appreciate most of all (and speaking for a moment as a gay man), and what I think is truly ground breaking, is the portrayel of `the homosxual' without being victimised or sterotyped, the moral equivalence between Jackson and Finch's love - indeed their moral dilemma - is perfectly drawn. And in the final voice to camera scene at the end, Finch remains one of the great actors of cinema.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
TOP 50 REVIEWERon 17 November 2012
1971 was a bit of an annus mirabilis for gay cinema, seeing the releases of Sunday Bloody Sunday in Britain and Les Amis in France. Both deal in an unprecedentedly realistic way with homosexuality, with the British film being more explicit, surprisingly, perhaps, until one considers that the boy in the French film is only 16 ... The films have a lot in common, with a warmhearted middle-aged character smitten with a younger one who is at most bisexual. The style, however, could hardly be more different, as Schlesinger's visual language is quite elaborate, a bit like the glass features made by the Murray Head character. He also gets all sorts of domestic details - getting under the covers to escape the freezing cold at first light, for instance, or adding water from both taps to instant coffee when in a hurry, only to leave most of it because it tastes so disgusting. His camera is quite restless, and constantly going for interesting angles and unexpected visual effects, yet it is just as much about human interaction and the mystery of the human heart. It manages to be quite profound, taken as a whole, with Peter Finch's character - Dan - shown not only as a very responsible doctor, but as a man who is deeply attached to his Jewish background, while not being very religious. A barmitzvah scene shows him remembering his own ceremony and how it gave him a structure for a useful life in the future; at the same time he is shown as a past master at polite evasions when faced with the matchmaking of older female relatives. He is a memorable screen creation, sealed by the daring moment when he talks directly to the camera in the last two minutes - a perfect ending for a character who has such poise and generous composure throughout. There is a real wisdom which comes across. He is matched - if not for this quality - by the other members of the love triangle, the wonderful Glenda Jackson in a less serene role, and the somewhat oblivious Murray Head who has all of youth's insouciance in a blend of attractiveness and egotism that seems completely convincing as shown. The film also stands as a portrait of London at the time - how different it was in many ways - and of the telephone messaging service which was a cumbersome version of the mobiling life of today. It plays up the transitory nature of the circumstances the film describes, and it is interesting to see how this is not just a feature of the modern world, as we tend to think, but characterised city life back then as well.
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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
on 24 January 2009
This film was something of a novelty at the time of its release in that it tells of the love triangle between a bisexual young man and his contemporaneous relationship with a women and an older man. The story of the pain and disillusionment of this menage is convincingly told against the fascinating backdrop of London life in the 1970's. The "forbidden fruit" of relationships that only exist in stolen moments is movingly portrayed. The acting is superb as is the script by Penelope Gilliatt. It is a very special film and I strongly recommend it.
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31 of 33 people found the following review helpful
on 25 October 2002
I believe that Sunday Bloody Sunday is Schlesinger's best work. Having been offered the privilege of watching Darling, Marathon Man and Midnight Cowboy I have to conclude that this movie is his masterpiece. Apart from the portentuous presences of Finch and Glenda Jackson, this movie possesses its own visual and narrative artistic merits and deserves to be called a work of art and even, I dare say, a masterpiece. Jackson and Finch are convincing in their performances and Finch's torrid and tempestuous affair with Murray Head is both believable and extremely human, there appears to be no hesitation, no equivocation in the performances of these men. Glenda Jackson is superb, of course, continuing to win over audiences with her austere beauty but most importantly, her imposing presence and captivating voice both vocally and corporeally speaking. I have to say that this film captures both the technical possibilities of film, bridging the gap between fine film and great art, but furthermore it incorporates brilliant acting that warms the audience and holds the frigid imagery of a dreary and struggling London at bay. The result is a duality: the city is granted a presence, almost personal, (so captured and brought to life by Schlesinger) and the very human travails of the characters speak a timeless humanity
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 31 December 2012
One of John Schlesinger's best fims and quite daring for it's time. There are some aspects of the film that date it a bit but it stands the test of time due to the intelligent directing and great performances. In particular, Peter Finch. He is really at the top of his game here and bravo to him for taking on this role when many top actors would have been too afraid to tackle this for fear of it having a negative inpact on their career. The same still holds true today. Maybe even more so it such a period of conservatism. It would be nice to think that we have moved on in regard to the portrayal of gay relationships on film but, with a few exceptions, it is still seen as box office poison unless done for laughs. This is a great study of relationships at all levels, straight or gay, rather than a plot driven film. It succeeds on so many levels.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on 14 February 2009
Unlike many films of the 1970's this one has aged well and seems as relevant today as when first released in 1971. It helps that the music is classical rather than rock and also that no one wears silly flares. It concerns Dr Hirsch, played by Peter Finch of 'Network' fame who has the most incredibly complicated love triangle with divorcee Glenda Jackson as well as the young artist Murray Head. Everyone in the film (including ex's) seems to know what's going on, but no one gives a damn or bats an eyelid. A small boy even openly (and naturalistically) smokes dope in front of an astonished Jackson who is called bourgeois when she complains about such behaviour. It has to be said that at times it is hard to follow the action because there are so many people involved in so many extended families so a repeat viewing is essential. Nevertheless this is an important and exciting sociological slice of life of London in the 1970's.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 17 March 2013
I had despaired of this film ever appearing on DVD and had given up looking for it. When on a whim I searched for it again , there it was! Seeing it (yet) again didn't disappoint; a truly terrific film with Peter Finch playing one of his best ever parts. Poignant, funny and moving it is now too a great period piece. A classic film; one of the greats. And the Mozart is wonderful too...
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 3 November 2014
I'm a great fan of Glenda Jackson as an actress, and now as a politician, and 'Sunday, Bloody Sunday' is, in my opinion, one of the best movies she appeared in. It was directed by John Schlesinger, who gave us such British cinema greats as 'Midnight Cowboy' and 'Yanks'.

It's an interesting tale of young, middle-class couple Alex Greville (Glenda) and Daniel Hirsh (Peter Finch), who, both fools for love, are having affairs with the same bisexual young artist Bob Elkin (Murray Head). All three characters are aware of the relationships of the other two, but they prefer to live with the situation rather than risk losing Elkin completely. This is more than just a love triangle, it's a study of characters, trying to compromise with a lack of communication.

'Sunday Bloody Sunday' is both thoughtful and intelligent, an unflinching portrait of real life with stellar performances from a great cast. The film was quite the ground breaker in 1971, because Finch's homosexual character is portrayed as successful, and not somebody who is particularly upset by his sexuality. Look out for a young June Brown (now a household name as Dot Cotton in 'EastEnders') playing one of his patients.
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on 13 February 2014
This is a wonderful, intelligent film. Glenda Jackson is, of course, spellbinding, every minute she’s on the screen. But all the players are excellent, horribly believable, as they act out the complex story of a web of all-too-human relationships, spread over the course of a week or so.

The story hasn’t dated, although the incidental details of London life in the 1970s now seem fascinating: the background economic crisis; the spartan modern city office, with opening windows and no air-conditioning; the cold --- when not in bed, shivering under multiple blankets, the characters all wear thick woollens; no seat belts in the cars; the smoking --- quite unlike the self-concious smoking on ‘Mad Men’, smoking is just another background activity, hardly noticed. And yet their 1970s London seems cleaner and safer, with better dressed people, than the 21st century present.

The family of Hampstead Liberals, with their pet menagerie and free range children are perhaps played for laughs rather than versimilitude, but the main characters --- Alex, Bob and Daniel, and their extended families, seem all too real and vulnerable.
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