Saturday Night and Sunday Morning (film)

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Saturday Night and Sunday Morning
Saturday Night Sunday Morning.jpg
Original British quad format cinema poster
Directed by Karel Reisz
Screenplay by Alan Sillitoe
Based on Saturday Night and Sunday Morning
by Alan Sillitoe
Produced by Tony Richardson
Harry Saltzman (executive)
Starring Albert Finney
Shirley Anne Field
Rachel Roberts
Hylda Baker
Norman Rossington
Cinematography Freddie Francis
Edited by Seth Holt
Music by John Dankworth
Distributed by Bryanston Films (UK)
Continental Distributing (USA)
Release dates
  • 27 October 1960 (1960-10-27)(UK)
  • 3 April 1961 (1961-04-03)(US) [1]
Running time
89 minutes
CountriesUnited Kingdom
United States
Budget£116,848 [2] [3] or £120,420 [4]
Box office£401,825 (UK) (as of 31 Dec 1964) [5] [6]

Saturday Night and Sunday Morning is a 1960 British kitchen sink drama film directed by Karel Reisz and produced by Tony Richardson. It is an adaptation of the 1958 novel of the same name by Alan Sillitoe, with Sillitoe himself writing the screenplay. The plot concerns a young teddy boy machinist, Arthur, who spends his weekends drinking and partying, all the while having an affair with a married woman.


The film is one of a series of "kitchen sink drama" films made in the late 1950s and early 1960s, as part of the British New Wave of filmmaking, from directors such as Reisz, Jack Clayton, Lindsay Anderson, John Schlesinger, and Tony Richardson, and adapted from the works of writers such as Sillitoe, John Braine, and John Osborne. A common trope in these films is the working-class "angry young man" character (in this case, the character of Arthur), who rebels against the oppressive social and economic systems established by previous generations.

In 1999, the British Film Institute named Saturday Night and Sunday Morning the 14th greatest British film of all time on its list of the Top 100 British films.


Arthur Seaton is a young machinist at the Raleigh bicycle factory in Nottingham. He is determined not to be tied down to living a life of domestic drudgery like the people around him, including his parents, whom he describes as "dead from the neck up". He spends his wages at weekends on drinking and having a good time.

Arthur is having an affair with Brenda, the wife of Jack, who works at the same factory as Arthur. He also begins a more traditional relationship with Doreen, a beautiful single woman closer to his age. Doreen, who lives with her mother and aspires to be married, avoids Arthur's sexual advances, so he continues to see Brenda, as a sexual outlet.

Brenda becomes pregnant by Arthur, who offers to help raise the child or terminate the unwanted pregnancy (abortion was not legal in Britain at the time the film takes place). Seeking advice, he takes her to see his Aunt Ada, who has Brenda sit in a hot bath and drink gin, which does not work. Brenda asks Arthur for £40 to get an abortion from a doctor.

After Doreen complains about not going anywhere public with Arthur, he takes her to the fair, where he sees Brenda with her family. When he manages to get Brenda alone, she reveals that she has decided to have the child, and then leaves Arthur to go back to her family before she is missed. Arthur follows her on to an amusement ride and gets in a car with her. Brenda's brother-in-law and his friend—both of whom are soldiers—notice her enter the ride and, following, catch Arthur riding with his arm around Brenda. Arthur escapes the ride, but the soldiers catch him later and beat him up in a vacant lot.

Arthur spends a week recovering from his injuries. Doreen visits him, and he makes the moves on her, but is interrupted by his cousin, Bert; they finally consummate their relationship later, at her house, after her mother goes to sleep. Back at work, Arthur runs into Jack, who tells him to stay away from Brenda, as they are staying together. Although he still has mixed feelings about settling into domestic life, Arthur decides to marry Doreen, and, on a hill overlooking a new housing development, they discuss their differing ideas of what their life together will look like. [7]




Saturday Night and Sunday Morning was at the forefront of the British New Wave, with its serious portrayal of British working class life and realistic handling of topics such as sex and abortion. It was among the first of the "kitchen sink dramas" that followed the success of the 1956 play Look Back in Anger . Producer Tony Richardson later directed another such film, The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner (1962), which was also adapted from an Alan Sillitoe book of the same name.

The film received an X rating from the BBFC upon its theatrical release. It was re-rated PG before a 1990 home video release. [8]

Filming locations

Much of the exterior location filming took place in Nottingham, but some scenes were shot elsewhere. For example, the night scene with a pub named The British Flag in the background was filmed along Culvert Road in Battersea, London, the pub being at the junction of Culvert Road and Sheepcote Lane (now Rowditch Lane).

According to an article that appeared in the Nottingham Evening News on 30 March 1960, the closing scene showing Arthur and Doreen on a grassy slope overlooking a housing development that is still under construction was shot in Wembley with the assistance of Nottingham builders Simms Sons & Cooke.[ citation needed ]


Bryanston guaranteed £81,820 of the budget, the NFFC provided £28,000, Twickenham Studios provided £610, and Richardson deferred his producers fee of £965. The film went £3,500 over budget and two days over schedule when filming at a Nottingham factory proved more difficult than expected. [9] Woodfall bought the rights to the novel from Joseph Janni for £2,000, and got Stiltoe to do the script because they could not afford a professional screenwriter. [10]


Saturday Night and Sunday Morning opened at the Warner cinema in London's West End on 27 October 1960, and received generally favourable reviews. It entered general release on the ABC cinema circuit from late January 1961, and was a box-office success, being the third most popular film in Britain that year. It earned a profit of over £500,000, [11] with Bryanston earning a profit of £145,000. [12]

After viewing the film, Ian Fleming sold the rights to the James Bond series to executive producer Harry Saltzman, who, with Albert R. "Cubby" Broccoli, would co-produce every James Bond film between Dr. No (1962) and The Man with the Golden Gun (1974). [13]


British Academy Film Awards Best Film Karel Reisz Nominated
Best British Film Won
Best British Actor Albert Finney Nominated
Best British Actress Rachel Roberts Won
Best British Screenplay Alan Sillitoe Nominated
Most Promising Newcomer to Leading Film Roles Albert Finney Won
Mar del Plata International Film Festival Grand Award for Best Feature Film [14] Karel ReiszWon
Best ActorAlbert FinneyWon
Best ScreenplayAllan SillitoeWon
FIPRESCI Award Karel ReiszWon
National Board of Review Best Actor Albert FinneyWon
Top Foreign FilmsWon

In Richard Lester's 1965 comedy Help! , Brenda's famous line "I believe you. Thousands wouldn't." is said by a police inspector after he witnesses The Beatles being attacked by a cult.

The title of indie rock band Arctic Monkeys' 2006 debut album, Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not , comes from a monologue Arthur delivers in the film.

The Stranglers' live album Saturday Night, Sunday Morning is named after the film. The Counting Crows' 2008 album is titled Saturday Nights & Sunday Mornings.

"Saturday Night Sunday Morning" is the title of a song on Madness' 1999 album Wonderful .

The run-out groove on the B-side of vinyl copies of The Smiths' 1986 album The Queen Is Dead features the line "Them was rotten days," a line said by Aunt Ada in the film. "Why don't you ever take me where's it lively and there's people?", a line said by Doreen before Arthur takes her to the fair, inspired the song "There Is a Light That Never Goes Out" on the same album ("I want to see people and I want to see life"). Morrissey, the lead singer and lyricist of The Smiths, has stated that the film is one of his favourites. The song, "Lily of Laguna", can be heard being sung in the background at the bar; the lyric, "I know she likes me, because she said so," is referenced in the song "Girl Afraid."

Arthur Seaton is mentioned in the song "Where Are They Now?" by The Kinks, which appears on their 1973 album Preservation Act 1 .

Arthur Seaton is mentioned in the song "From Across the Kitchen Table" by The Pale Fountains.[ citation needed ]

The promotional video for the 2013 Franz Ferdinand single "Right Action" uses elements of the graphic design from the film's original cinema poster, and some of the song's lyrics were inspired by a postcard addressed to Karel Reisz that the band's lead singer, Alex Kapranos, found for sale on a market stall.[ citation needed ]

The film is referenced in Torvill and Dean , a 2018 biopic of Nottingham ice dancers Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean. Like Arthur, Jayne's father works in the Raleigh factory, and when a young Jayne mentions the film, her mother scolds her and calls the film "rude".

See also

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  1. The Times, 27 October 1960, pages 2: First advertisement for the film – found through The Times Digital Archive 14 September 2013
  2. Chapman, J. (2022). The Money Behind the Screen: A History of British Film Finance, 1945-1985. Edinburgh University Press p 360
  3. Petrie, Duncan James (2017). "Bryanston Films : An Experiment in Cooperative Independent Production and Distribution" (PDF). Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television: 7. ISSN   1465-3451.
  4. Chapman, L. (2021). “They wanted a bigger, more ambitious film”: Film Finances and the American “Runaways” That Ran Away. Journal of British Cinema and Television, 18(2), 176–197 p 182.
  5. Petrie p. 9
  6. Sarah Street (2014) Film Finances and the British New Wave, Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television, 34:1, 23-42 p27, DOI: 10.1080/01439685.2014.879000
  7. Russell, Jamie (7 October 2002). "Saturday Night and Sunday Morning (1960)". BBC . Retrieved 9 August 2020.
  8. Saturday Night and Sunday Morning BBFC page
  9. Petrie p. 9
  10. Harper, Sue; Porter, Vincent (2003). British Cinema of The 1950s The Decline of Deference. Oxford University Press USA. p. 184.
  11. Tino Balio, United Artists: The Company That Changed the Film Industry, University of Wisconsin Press, 1987 p. 239
  12. Petrie p. 9
  13. Field, Matthew (2015). Some kind of hero : 007 : the remarkable story of the James Bond films. Ajay Chowdhury. Stroud, Gloucestershire. ISBN   978-0-7509-6421-0. OCLC   930556527.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link)
  14. "Mar del Plata Awards 1961". Mar del Plata. Retrieved 25 November 2013.