Saturday Night and Sunday Morning: The Movie

Words: Howard Jacks
Sunday 25 April 2010
reading time: min, words

Ten things you may not know about Saturday Night and Sunday Morning the film...



1. The film was unwittingly part of the Angry Young Man movement of the late 50s, along with John Osborne’s Look Back in Anger and John Braine’s Room at the Top. Unlike Jimmy Porter (the sulky, middle-class protagonist of the former) and Joe Lampton (the voraciously aspirational star of the latter), our Arthur is common as muck and wants to bring the toffs down, not join them.

2. Unlike most films of the time, Saturday Night and Sunday Morning was actually filmed mainly on location in Nottingham, instead of London or the Home Counties. Don’t go looking for the new council estate that Arthur and Doreen take a goz at in the final scene, though: it’s actually in Wembley.

3. Although Alan Sillitoe had nothing to do with the production of the film, his old house (where his Mam still lived) was used as a location. Not only that, but his brother Michael plays the drums in the pub band at the beginning of the film.

4. Despite initial misgivings about the book, Raleigh were so enamoured of the proposed film (not to mention the free publicity therein) that they encouraged the producers to use its real name during location filming, instead of the original ‘Trentside Industries Ltd’.

5. Saturday Night and Sunday Morning was the first starring vehicle for Albert Finney and only his second screen role. Alarmingly Manc-ish accent aside, he nailed the role of Seaton to such an extent that he’s been described as 'the closet Britain ever got to having its own James Dean or Marlon Brando.'

6. The film also marked the directorial debut of Karel Reisz, who was one of 669 Czechoslovakian children rescued from a Nazi concentration camp by Sir Nicholas Winton during World War II, and a co-founder of the Free Cinema movement which radically changed the face of documentary-making in the UK.

7. Hylda Baker, who plays Arthur’s Aunt Ada and is the only cast member to even vaguely approach a Notts accent, not only went on to star in one of the biggest sitcoms of the early 70s (Nearest and Dearest), but also recorded a frighteningly successful cover version of You’re The One That I Want with Arthur Mullard that reached No.22 in 1978. Their combined age at the time: 141.

8. The film was co-produced by Bryan Forbes (a British independent producer) and Harry Saltzman, a Canadian who took his cut of the proceeds from the film and invested them in the film rights to a series of books that had been passed over by assorted production companies, as they were seen as unsuitable for film. The central character? James Bond.  

9. The score is by the great John Dankworth, who went on to write the theme tunes to Tomorrow’s World, Survival and The Avengers. His pianist at the time, who can be heard on the soundtrack, is none other than a very young Dudley Moore.

10. Saturday Night and Sunday Morning went on to scoop Best Film at the BAFTA Awards of 1961, where Albert Finney also won Best Newcomer.

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