Cast: Albert Finney, Shirley Anne Field, Rachel Roberts, Hylda Baker, Norman Rossington
SUMMARY: Arthur Seaton (Albert Finney) is a young man who works as a lathe operator in Nottingham, England. Arthur hates his job, but likes the money it provides him. As soon as he gets off on Fridays, he goes out on the town and spends most of the weekend having a good time. Most of these “good times” involve drinking, though he also uses the time to see his girlfriend Brenda (Rachel Roberts). Brenda is actually married to a coworker of Arthur’s, named Jack, and has a young son. This affair has been going on for some time, but Jack has no idea. When Arthur learns that Jack has been switched to nights at the factory, he is thrilled, as it means he can spend more time with Brenda. One evening when Arthur is out without Brenda, he meets a young woman named Doreen (Shirley Anne Field) in a bar. Doreen seems to be immune to Arthur’s charms, but tells him that she always goes to the movies on Wednesday. Arthur joins her the next time, and afterwards persuades Doreen to see him again. When Brenda confronts him and tells him that she has heard rumors of another girl, Arthur strenuously denies them. However, Arthur is soon faced with a bigger problem: Brenda is pregnant, and she is positive that it is Arthur’s child.
Both want to abort the baby, and Brenda tries various methods to do so, all unsuccessfully. Arthur even enlists the help of his Aunt Ada (Hylda Baker), but her method also fails. Finally Brenda makes an appointment with a doctor for an illegal abortion procedure, but when the day comes she finds that she cannot go through with it. She decides to keep the baby, regardless of the consequences. She also implies that Jack knows about both the affair and the pregnancy, and has taken her back. However, when Arthur runs into the couple at a carnival, Jack’s soldier brother and his friend chase Arthur down and beat him up severely. Arthur is found b Doreen and his cousin Bert (Norman Rossington) and taken home, where he remains in bed for nearly a week. Doreen finally comes to visit him and even though she clearly disapproves of some of his choices, she agrees to marry him when he suggests it (in a rather vague way). Arthur goes back to work, where Jack has been switched back to days. When they run into each other, Arthur expects a confrontation, but Jack refuses to engage. He obliquely scolds Arthur, and tells him that he and Brenda will be all right together, before leaving. Arthur does not see Brenda again, and begins to think of building a life with Doreen.
MY TAKE: “They’re called boobs, Ed.” Seriously, that was all I could think of for at least the first half hour of this movie. In case you don’t know, that line is from Erin Brockovich, and is said by Julia Roberts to her boss — played by a much older Albert Finney. Finney also famously played Oliver “Daddy” Warbucks in the 1980s version of the musical Annie, which also starred Carol Burnett. This was the first time I had ever seen a young Albert Finney, but his face and distinctive voice make him instantly recognizable. When he first appeared on screen, I could only see his profile, but then a voiceover started and I knew it was him. I was even more surprised to find that I knew another actor from the movie — Rachel Roberts, who plays Brenda, also plays the headmistress in Picnic at Hanging Rock, though she’s also considerably older in that movie. She’s not as easy to recognize as Finney. There is one more connection I made: the producer of this film is Tony Richardson. The name sounded familiar, so I looked it up: he was once married to Vanessa Redgrave, and his daughters are (the late) Natasha Richardson and Joely Richardson. Joely Richardson appeared in the recently-reviewed Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. I feel like I’m playing Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon. As for the movie itself, while it was well-done, I didn’t feel like there was much of a story. Arthur doesn’t do or learn anything important, and he doesn’t really seem to change. If he reformed, or at least tried to, there would seem to be a storyline, but he just knocks around town, causing trouble and bothering people. The acting was good enough to keep me watching, but when I was done I found myself wondering what the purpose of the film was. I did like the part where he pops the lady in the butt with the air gun, though.