Movie Review and Trivia: "Saturday Night and Sunday Morning" (1960)

Albert Finney in his breakthrough role in 'Saturday Night and Sunday Morning'.
Albert Finney in his breakthrough role in 'Saturday Night and Sunday Morning'.

Saturday is often the highlight of the worker’s week – a free day where he can relax, drink a cold beer with his friends, and speak freely on any topics. This trait certainly rings true in the 1960 film “Saturday Night and Sunday Morning”,which shows the life of disillusioned factory worker Arthur Seaton. Arthur works in a drab factory in the English city of Nottingham, where he’s seen as a bit of a troublemaker and rebel.

Some say that the film has a style that is almost that of a documentary, as it truly highlights some of the social frustrations and hopelessness that many British working class members felt during the post-war period. Plus, the director Karel Reisz previously worked with documentaries (in fact, this movie was his debut as a director of feature films).

The film at times has short narrations and inner dialogues voiced by Arthur, as well as scenes with Arthur fishing with his friend Bert by the river (one in the middle of the film, as well as one near the end) which all act as exposition. Arthur voices his frustrations and inner thoughts with his friend, as well as his current schemes.

Arthur Seaton (Albert Finney) and Brenda (Rachel Roberts)
Arthur Seaton (Albert Finney) and Brenda (Rachel Roberts) | Source

Words and phrases that can be used to describe the surroundings of Arthur’s house and factory include 'dreary', 'stagnant', 'tedious' and 'without much hope'. However, Arthur constantly looks for ways to break the monotony and boredom of his life. i.e, purposely spilling drinks on the snobbish couple in the bar, putting the dead rat on the woman’s desk at work, shooting the nosy neighbor woman with a pellet gun, etc. Plus, he carries on affairs with two different women, one of which is married to his co-worker. However, this last one backfires on him as the married woman, Brenda, becomes pregnant. This couple goes to a local fair together, and Arthur ends up being beaten badly in an alleyway by men sent by Brenda’s husband (as predicted by his friend during the first fishing scene).

In the end, Arthur decides to stop seeing Brenda, which makes for an awkward encounter with Brenda’s husband at work. We never do know what happens to Brenda or Arthur's unborn child. He however continues his relationship with Doreen, and the film ends with them walking together into the distance, holding hands. However, we are reassured that Arthur will continue to cause trouble in his special way by his defiant declaration of “Whatever people say I am, that’s what I’m not." Arthur simply will not settle for the dull life of his parents, who sit quietly at home "rotting away" in front of the television. For this, we (and Arthur) do see a glimmer of hope for the future.


Movie Trivia and Did-You-Knows?

  • Actor Albert Finney won a BAFTA Award for Most Promising Newcomer to Leading Film Roles in 1961, as well as a National Board of Review for Best Actor. The film also won three British Academy Awards.
  • The film is based on a play written by English author Alan Sillitoe, which was first published in 1958.
  • Arthur's phrase of "Whatever people say I am, that's what I'm not" was used by the English indie-rock band Arctic Monkeys as the title of their 2006 debut album. In fact, many songs on the album were influenced greatly by the character.
  • The film is considered to be a part of the British New Wave of cinema, as well as a 'kitchen sink drama' - film movemenst that showed new light on the realities of working class life.
  • The factory scenes in the movie were filmed in the very same factory that the author Sillitoe worked in.

"Saturday Night and Sunday Morning" Movie Trailer

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