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4.7 out of 5 stars94
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After viewing this unashamedly gritty portrayal of British working class life on BLU RAY, you're left with two distinct impressions - one is admiration for the extraordinary restoration work done by the BRITISH FILM INSTITUTE on the newly restored near-faultless print - and second - and more importantly - is sheer astonishment at what a truly fantastic and ballsy film "Saturday Night And Sunday Morning" is.

In 2009 - with our so-called freedom and enlightenment - you'd be hard-pressed to find a movie so darkly truthful and still relevant. Masterpiece is a word that is often overused, but in this case it genuinely applies.

Directed by Karel Reisz in 1960, it was produced by Tony Richardson (who directed "The Loneliness of The Long Distance Runner") and adapted and scripted from his own novel by Alan Sillitoe. Set in the East Midlands, this is a world of downing pints of mild and bitter until you're paralytic drunk, red phone booths with black A/B coin boxes in them, kids getting a bag of Dolly Mixtures sweets in the corner shop, push-up packets of Sweet Afton cigarettes, kettles that boil by whistling because they're on a gas stove and not in an electric socket where they'd bubble, busy bodies with scarves on their heads watching with malicious eyes from tenement doorways for neighbours doing anything immoral...

A young Albert Finney plays defiant loudmouth Arthur Seaton who suffers the late 1950's Nottingham factory all day, because at night and at weekends, he can have his "fun". In his dapper suit and greased-back hair, Arthur is busy juggling another man's wife, drinking and betting. Finney isn't just good in the part, he's magnificent - he inhabits every scene like a panther about to pounce - like the world owes him a favour and his character Arthur clearly believes it does (his anthem above is spoken in the opening credits as he wipes his hands in a rag by the machine-tool lathe). The script is funny, ultra-realistic and dangerous all of the time. The scene where Finney arrives back from work and tells his mesmerized vegitating dad sat in an armchair in front of the gogglebox again that a man lost an eye because he watched too much television - elicits the half-dead response "aye son" - is both funny and poignant at the same time.

Having said that, watching the movie again, you're more struck by the women whose parts were cutting edge for the time - given real meat to work with. Shirley Ann Field isn't just a pretty face as Doreen the girl who makes hairnets and lives at home with her mum; she adds a rare intelligence and class to the movie. Hylda Baker is excellent as the convivial Aunt Ada who thinks Arthur is a lovely boy, but it's Rachel Roberts as the smitten wife Brenda who nicks the film - she is needy one moment, steely determined the next - then towards the end, she's just beaten and broken and lowered down as she realizes Arthur's heart is going somewhere else - permanently.

Johnny Dankworth's jazz soundtrack is deceptive - it seems like fun at first, but mostly it acts as an almost sly and sinister backdrop - happy tunes for people with nowhere to go - for the rest of their lives... It's very, very effective.

But your eyes keep coming back to the print - apart from a few lines in the opening shot of the noisy factory floor, the stark black and white footage is consistently fantastic - you can see Rachel's face blusher, Finney's sweat in the pub as he watches a war-veteran drown his sorrow in beer (Peter Sallis - the voice of Wallace in Wallace & Gromit - has a bit part in that scene) even feel the soft texture of Doreen's cashmere cardigans...a stunning restoration job done from start to finish.

The 4 extras are a mixed bag of the great and the disappointing:
1. A commentary for the duration of the film, which you can have On or Off.
2. There's an extract of an interview with Albert Finney taped in 1982 at the National Film Theatre (hosted by Michael Billington), which is accompanied by stills from the film. It's witty and informative in some ways, but criminally short at about 6 minutes. Being the main star, it's very disappointing to not hear more from him. Far better is...
3. An interview with Shirley Ann Field, which is superlative. She reminisces about each of the actors, her naivety at the time of filming, how groundbreaking the subject matter was - and of course from the stills - you get to see how beautiful she was and still is - a class act - much like Finney himself.
4. Best, however, is "We Are The Lambeth Boys", a documentary film about youths at work and play. It centres on the "Alford House Youth Club" and like the film is fully restored too. It uses the same Woodfall film team - Reisz as Director, Walter Lassally the camerman and even has Johnny Dankworth's jazzy music. It's a fascinating and lengthy insight into a world of British youth that is gone forever.

"Saturday Night And Sunday Morning" is a balls-to-the-wall triumph on Blu Ray - it's just such a shame that the mighty Albert Finney didn't get more involved - it would have been such sweet icing to an already great piece of cake.

Recommended - big time.

PS: the BFI have also done "The Loneliness Of The Long Distance Runner" (see REVIEW) and astonishing restorations of Stanley Baker's "Zulu" and Michael Caine's "The Italian Job" (see REVIEW)....
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VINE VOICEon 3 April 2010
'Saturday Night And Sunday Morning' has to be one of the all-time greats from the 1960s.

This movie is one of the best-remembered of the so-called 'Kitchen Sink Dramas' that would become the trademark of the decade. It was an important film for many of its cast - not least for Rachel Roberts (later to commit suicide) who won a BAFTA for her role in the movie - and for a part she nearly never got! Also; Hylda Baker made her screen debut in this before going on to become a household name in her own sit-coms that would prove highly successful throughout the rest of the decade and early 70s, and for Edna Morris who will always be best-remembered for the trouble-making 'Ma Bull' who for her pains, gets an air pellet right on the backside - a priceless scene that's not to be missed!

'Arthur Seaton' (Albert Finney) is an angry young man who's out for a good time. He's not too bothered whose toes he treads upon - providing he gets what he wants, until that is, he meets 'Doreen' (Shirley Anne Field) who distracts him from a long-term relationship that was going no-where with a married woman. (Rachel Roberts)

This movie will be simply paradise for many as they recall the dingy, but 'homely' houses, smoky pubs, down to earth banter and the neighbours chatting with their hairnets on and arms folded over the garden gate - so many things that for so long now have become but a distant memory for many of us... A perfect capturing of 1960s 'ordinary' Britain forever - simply 'gold'!

There's also some very interesting Bonus Features on this DVD; (something I'm usually not into - but these are quite wonderful) including Interviews with both Albert Finney and Shirley Anne Field about the movie - a Commentary from several key people involved in making the film, (including the author of the original novel) and best of all; an hour long real-life documentary showing a bunch of ordinary young people enjoying a night out at a local Youth Club - and airing their views with a look at their lives that's really fascinating. It will bring back many memories of the period for thousands!

Great stuff!
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on 14 November 2011
This film about a Nottingham factory worker In 1960 set the bench mark for many northern working class dramas of its type.Its central character is dissatisfied with his life and is having an affair with a co-workers wife,he does not want to settle for convention and just wants a good time.Its written by Alan Sillitoe,from his novel,and stars Albert Finney,Shirley Anne Field and Rachel Roberts Its characters are so brilliantly played by all the actors in this film Its hard to fault in anyway.This marvellous 1960 film In my opinion is one of the best british films ever to be made.
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on 4 August 2009
It's really great to see this classic film available again. It seems to appear and disappear in the BFI catalogues periodically and, though I owned the original VHS release, I missed its last appearance on DVD. It had been some years, then, since I had last watched it but, having seen it again recently, I can say that it is still as superb an example of post-war British cinema as I've seen.

Sillitoe's - and Finney's - Arthur Seaton really captures the mood of much of Britain's working class youth at the time; the fifties and early sixties were a period of relative prosperity, a stark contrast to the privations of the war and its immediate aftermath. There was a complementary liberalisation in social mores to some degree as well, much as had happened during and after the First World War; soldiers returned from the various battle zones with new ideas; the influx of American troops also introduced new concepts - and women and their status began to be viewed differently, by society at large and by women themselves. At the same time, although Seaton is part of this, he hasn't had access to the ideas and education for him to make sense of the changing world and his part in it - he makes flip references to the `Reds' and the Communist Party, but he isn't engaged with politics in anything more than a superficial sense; his comments seem more designed to shock those who steadfastly follow the established order of things.

The boom in consumer goods hasn't filtered down to Arthur's social sphere yet either - he works hard and he has money in his pocket, more money than many of his workmates but his only outlet is booze and sex, which he finds readily available. Caught in a transitional period, he's a peculiarly British `rebel without a cause' and is ready to rail at any perceived authority without a clear idea why. In the course of the film, he has some rude awakenings and some harsh truths to face - I'm not sure myself whether he has learnt as much as he needs to by the end of the movie to make the rest of his life a less bumpy ride, but the ending is open enough for everyone to have their own take on that.

Reisz's direction captures not just the energy of Arthur's world but also the loyalties and tensions - in both the family and in the neighbourhood - that hold it all together; Hylda Baker turns in a sterling performance as Arthur's aunt, a reminder of her fine acting skills for those who only know her later comedy work. Rachel Roberts also stands out as his one-time love interest; it's a more convincing characterisation than Shirley Anne Field perhaps, whose character replaces her in Arthur's affections - at the same time, the contrast between the two women is nicely marked and Field's Doreen has a charm of her own that's hard to put your finger on. In truth the whole cast is well chosen and there are several actors whose faces are probably more familiar than their names would be, all of whom contribute to the success of the film.

With Arthur's story surrounded by the legendary Johnny Dankworth's atmospheric jazz score, this really is a classic of British New Wave cinema and still remains one of the best films - in my opinion - that Britain has produced. A five star recommendation without a shadow of a doubt.
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on 4 March 2010
I have seen this film several times on tv and also got it on dvd as a freebie with a newspaper
the picture quality on the newspaper issue is a bit grainy and it isnt chaptered which means you have to watch it right through or fast fwd it to the bit in the film you left it at
as for the film i like it because of the scenes in the raleigh factory in the early sixties apparently albert finnie did operate the lathe in the film(its bottom bracket axles hes working on)
I have never however been able to establish what model of raleigh racer albert finnie rides in the film despite several attempts with zoom to try and see the transfers on the bike when he lifts it up after unchaining it when going to work.
The reason for this is that i collect classic bicycles and would like to have the same model of bike arthur seaton rode in the film saturday night and sunday morning in my bike collection
Anyone know if the disc amazon sells has any extras such as audio commentry or original trailer?
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on 11 July 2009
The classic sixties film in a changing society, old culture merging into the new a film that is one of the first examining a change in morals and ' youf' culture. The definitive performance in this role by Albert Finney with a superb supporting cast. A snapshot of how it was and how it was to be.
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on 22 August 2010
This 1960 made film of Alan Sillitoe's Book is an "angry young man" classic.
Set in Nottingham in around 1960, the story centres around stroppy piece-time factory worker Arthur Seaton (Albert Finney), doing exactly what we all loved to do (or wish we could have done) in those days.
Which was to earn good money, rightly knock the establishment for the generally harsh way it treated the working classes, have a classy but marriage-mad girlfriend Doreen (Shirley Anne Field), whilst at the same time having a bit on the side with a married woman (Rachel Roberts).
Those were the days of hard drinking, hard smoking, wish you could get a girl in the sack without getting engaged, bleak, slummy council house and industrial wasted landscape existence, but with a good sense of humour and a few good laughs thrown in with the drudgery.
Luckily, however, the film ended on an optimistic note as Arthur and Doreen set their hearts on a future together and acquiring one of the newly constructed, modern (luxurious even) council houses, devised and produced by Clement Attlee and his post-war Labour Government. My daughters (born in the 1960s) also enjoyed the film and thought it a great commentary on life "in those days". They have also shown the film to their daughters (born in the 1990s).
Footnote:
Things did get a bit better with time. With the advantage of hindsight, let's not forget that in those days governments did govern, so that although some things were bad, some were also very good. Only the rich could afford cars, so public transport services (buses, coaches and trains) were excellent and affordable. The Government still owned the utilities and so controlled the prices of gas, oil and electricity, which were therefore also affordable as the aim was to provide services to the public and hopefully break even, rather than generate profits for shareholders.
The Government also watched the behaviour of Banks and Building Societies like hawks and so money was lent sensibly, at reasonable interest rates. With adequate council housing stock becoming available during the 1960s, not so many people found it necessary to buy a house, so private house prices were also affordable, particularly as there were tight borrowing regulations. I seem to remember earning around £2,000 per annum in 1970 and being allowed to borrow three times this amount for a mortgage. These kinds of rules kept house prices reasonable too. Wouldn't it be nice today, if the average house price was three times the average annual salary?
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on 9 May 2010
Every scene, every word commands our attention and tells us something worth knowing about the characters and the background they live in. You never take your eyes off the screen for a second.
Working -class Britain at work and at play is realistically but sympathetically portrayed.
You can really feel that 'Friday night, pay -night, week-end ahead' atmosphere.
A classic of the cinema.
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on 8 May 2009
This film hadn't been available on DVD for a long time, so I was pleased to see it finally released. I actually live in Nottingham (where it is set) and my main reason for buying it was to see images of the Nottingham I half-remember as a kid. Plenty of black-and-white street scenes of the early 1960s, when men all smoked and wore caps, and the women had pointy chests and/or hairnets.

Everything shown here is now 50+ years ago and it's interesting to see how average everyday life has changed; the ultra-basic kitchen in a terraced house; the back yard and the factory chimneys next door; the Ford Populars and Standard Vanguards. Albert Finney's performance is exceptional, he's natural and believable, likewise Rachel Roberts and Shirley Anne Field; whereas some of the other male characters (step forward Bryan Pringle and Norman Rossington) look very cardboard and un-realistic.

But as a snapshot of how people really lived in 1960, it's probably one of the best examples you'll ever come across
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 14 March 2015
First of all the easy bit. Watching on 100' projection the blu ray picture is immaculate. It is, to my surprise, a widescreen movie with just the slightest of black bars either side. The dvd supplied is also immaculate although not as pin sharp as the blu ray as you would expect. I kept the mono soundtrack on stereo which is just mono through two speakers.

So the viewing experience was cinematic. I was totally engrossed as I believe people were when originally viewed at 'the pictures.' For this is still powerful cinema but for different reasons. The story centres on one young man's struggle with a new found freedom. The kind of freedom that independent wealth affords. £14 a week he was on which I equate to taking home about £300 a week these days, living with parents. He worked-out how to get ahead financially.

His battle with 'the bosses' parallels his anxiety about women. An anxiety brought to a head when his already married girl-friend tells him she's pregnant. It is 1959. Water off a duck's back these days but then...then the scorns and derision impregnate the one thing that keeps you part of a community: pride. And community was all there was.

As a film fan I really enjoyed the pacing of the piece. Good use of background sounds to help keep you engaged. From snogging on the couch, a dog barking in the alley, a car passing in the distance. Then cut to the hussle and bussle and racket of the factory floor. This I missed on small television viewing.

I could also enjoy reading the titles of books on shelves and reading the many posters that are so well framed in scenes. Even old world safety notices could be read as part of the scene, part of the era. An era, as our hero says, that has seen the back of real poverty of the 1930s and 1940s and is on the cusp of a new age (unknown to him) of rampant materialism. Free love, making your own music and eventually owning your own films. Without letting them grind you down. Great stuff.
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