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4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5 stars
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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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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).
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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TOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon 16 December 2009
Albert Finney was the perfect choice for the role of young Arthur Seaton. It's Finney's performance as Arthur that ensures this diamond of a movie continues to shine after more than 50 years. Arthur is a working class Nottingham lad living life at the start of the 1960s. Gone are the standards and morals set by his war generation parents and Arthur launches himself, at full speed, into social and sexual freedom. Little was hidden by the film makers as they tackled themes of abortion, adultery, violence, sex before marriage, foul language and drunken behaviour which seem mild by todays standards but were outrageous to a huge number of the viewing public in 1960. I suppose we'd now label Saturday Night and Sunday Morning as a coming of age film. It's true to say that after a great deal of rebelling Arthur Seaton meets the right girl and starts to settle down but; you're left with the feeling that he's always going to have a wild side. You hear Arthur talk about marriage and buying his own home but; you don't actually see him do it. The end of the film is wide open and you're left to make up your own mind. Much of the film was shot on location in Nottingham and has some evocative scenes of the Goose Fair, Raleigh and parts of inner Nottingham that have mostly disappeared. Packed with atmosphere, great acting and a real slice of East Midlands social history; Saturday Night and Sunday Morning is one of the best vintage British films, an absolute classic of this genre. Picture and audio quality are still good enough not to spoil your enjoyment of the film though, obviously, it's not keeping up with modern viewing technology and can come over as grainy.
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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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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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At times films of this quality almost become historical documents, except for those who remember them as also being social commentary. A young Nottingham rakehell played by Finney enjoys the comparative wealth of the skilled working class in Tory Britain of 1960, but he's alive to the risks (his mother and father, he notes had their hash settled some time ago by the gaffers). On top of the class and economic issues Finney is squiring another man's wife (the husband played by Brian Pringle is excellent) and yet tempted by the rather traditional Doreen (brilliantly played by Shirley Anne Field). Can he avoid the traps of marriage, can he heckers like....

Directed by Karel Reiz, produced by Tony Richardson from an Alan Sillitoe novel: a cast that act their pants off. Enjoy one of the best examples of British New Wave
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on 21 April 2011
One of the best British movies ever. I'm from Canada and normally would never watch these types of movies but there are so many funny scenes in them I start laughing. Some of my favorites is the one where Arthur puts a mouse in a co-workers area. Another is when he shot something at the nosy neighbour. I found out about these movies because Morrissey is a big fan and I decided to watch them. I am so glad I did. I also recommend Billy Liar, The Leather Boys, The L-shaped room and A taste of honey. The book for the L-shaped room is excellent.
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on 27 November 2012
This arrived extremely quickly. It was packaged nicely and I was excited just opening it. Although the cover print was not in english, there was english instructions for taking the subtitles off.
The condition was excellent and had been enhanced and matched my widescreen Tv. and the picture was so clear you would think it had been filmed recently. I have watched this film on TV a while ago and can say truthfully that the restoration on this particular recording was something of a suprise. I will certainly order from this seller again
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on 6 January 2012
It was great to see this old film again, it is a film I never get fed up of watching as it is based in the sixties when I was about 18 years old and it is so like what life was like in those days. The delivery of this DVD was speedy and the the condition and packing was excellent, I was very satisfied. Thank you.
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on 25 November 2015
Greatly improves on the MGM R1 DVD of many years ago. The picture is a little softer than the very best Blu-rays but perfectly adequate, it may be the source elements for all I know. An absolute masterpiece movie from the British New Wave.
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