The Magazine of Lenton Local History Society

The Filming Of Saturday Night And Sunday Morning - 1960

Nottingham Evening Post
Tuesday 8th November 1960

'Queen of films' comes back home to Nottingham

The film that will stamp Nottingham's trademark on the screens of the world -''Saturday Night and Sunday Morning" - from the book by Radford writer Alan Sillitoe, will be given its provincial premiere in Nottingham from Sunday onwards.

That night, the director, Karel Reisz, and one of the stars, Shirley Anne Field, are to attend the first public showing at the ABC (Carlton) Cinema.

The Evening Post previewed the film at the ABC today and found it in quality and realism ahead even of such films as "Look Back in Anger" which came out of the same film stable (Woodfall Films). It nails firmly that fond myth of Nottingham as the Queen of the Midlands. Author Sillitoe knows from the heart how young men like Arthur Seaton act and feel, as, like thousands of similar young men, he sweats at his monotonous job in a factory, taking home good money and feeling dimly in his not unintelligent mind that there must be something more to life than working, boozing and "getting caught" into a humdrum marriage.

Not, of course, that Arthur Seaton is held up as a typical "working class” youngster. Sillitoe is not trying to insult his background by saying that because you live in a Radford terrace house you are a boozer and a liar whose idea of a good time is to drink yourself senseless and sleep it off with a workmate's wife.

Arthur is a natural rebel, very likable in fact, but he has been spawned in conditions that channel his rebellion into the wrong ways.

"Don't let them grind you down. You've got to be as cunning as they are. Settle down and before you know it you've kicked the bucket". These are his slogans, because, what with monotony and Income Tax and the call-up, he honestly sees nothing more to life.

In this brilliantly unpretentious slice of realism, portrayed splendidly by Albert Finney, Arthur is seen taking all he can get. He works hard at his lathe, pays his parents good board out of the £14 he takes home every Friday and blows the rest on expensive clothes, plenty of ale and little else.

He has got off to a fine art the technique of sliding out of the back door as his mate (Bryan Pringle, ex -Nottingham Playhouse actor) comes in at the front. He sees no reason why he should settle down with his girlfriend (Shirley Anne Field) when, with married Brenda (Rachel Roberts), he is having all the fun and none of the responsibility.

But all the same he does settle down. In typical fashion, retribution comes to Arthur Seaton the hard way. Brenda becomes pregnant; old wives' methods of "getting rid of it" do not work and Arthur goes down under the flailing fists of the husband's brothers. But, never, even then, does he get to the level of the ranting, self-pitying Jimmy Porter in "Look Back in Anger."

Rarely has a city been caught as Nottingham is in "Saturday Night and Sunday Morning." From the whining screech of Raleigh's lathe shop to the drab backyards of Beaconsfield Terrace, Nottingham is pinned down.

The accent is authentic, with its "Hey-up, ducks" and "loves" and brisk banter. They drink Hardy's beer and go to the Savoy Cinema, chase down Willoughby Street and catch a bus down Derby Road. They meet up on the Castle Terrace and look down at the factories and sheds and chimney pots of Castle Boulevard.

The Raleigh workers turn out in tea-time droves. It's a bustling city, a Midlands city. Not a Queen.

But it’s Queen of a film.


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