Despite success on the field, a rising rugby star senses the emerging emptiness of his life as his inner angst begins to materialize through aggression and brutality, so he attempts to woo his landlady in hopes of finding reason to live.
Divorced working woman Alex and well-to-do Jewish family doctor Daniel Hirsh share not only the same answering service but also the favours of young Bob Elkin who bed-hops between them as ... See full summary »
A young woman lives a life filled with bad choices. She marries and has a child with an abusive thief at a young age who quickly ends up in prison. Left alone she takes up with his mate (... See full summary »
A young man, inching his way up from working-class traditions via a white-collar job, finds himself trapped by the frightening reality of his girlfriend's pregnancy and is forced into marrying her and moving in with his mother-in-law due to a housing shortage in their Northern England town. Written by
Excellent work from all concerned has gone to create what is probably, in spite of its generally melancholy atmosphere, the warmest of the realistic school of British movies from the early 1960s. Vic Brown is not as angry as Arthur Seaton in Saturday Night and Sunday Morning nor as alienated from his family as Billy Fisher in Billy Liar. And he is more likable than either Joe Lampton in Room at the Top or Frank Machin in This Sporting Life. Both Vic and Ingrid are sympathetic, recognisable people, who find themselves trapped in a situation with which their society's stern morality of self-control and self-denial, vividly expressed by Vic's sister towards the end of the film, has no sympathy at all. We finish with them trying to muddle through, and it is this compassionate but still unresolved finale that gives the film its hesitant title.
On the production side, the script, taken from Barstow's novel by those two stalwarts, Waterhouse and Hall, is bang on target; the photography, never less than excellent, is often breathtaking, as in the wonderful long shot of a romantic couple on Southport beach, gradually withdrawing into the confines of a hotel bedroom. But the usually reliable Ron Grainer doesn't quite seem to know where he's going with the music.
The performances are wonderful. The Brown family is lovingly portrayed with the lightest of touches, with particular praise earned by those two veterans, Gwen Nelson and Bert Palmer, as the parents. In the workplace, a fine group of actors, a number of whom were to become household names in the UK in later years, show their true mettle. And leading them all, that magnificent trio of Thora Hird, June Ritchie and Alan Bates.
Of Bates, a fine actor, who left a legacy of performances on film, there's no need to say much: he's perfect for the role, gets under its skin, reveals the longings, the confusions, the contradictions, the lovability, the vulnerability and the folly. No one could ask for more or better.
Thora Hird went on to enjoy a considerable Indian summer of success under the wing of the playwright Alan Bennett, but in spite of some remarkable work during those years, it's at least arguable that she never did anything on screen as intensely realised as Mrs Rothwell. Hird ensures that she is never a figure of fun or a caricature - indeed, she is often very touching in her protectiveness towards her daughter - but at the same time she gives the comic side of the character full value.
June Ritchie is absolutely wonderful as Ingrid. She may never have become the star that, say, Julie Christie (somewhat unwillingly) became, but she was and still is a remarkable actress, worthy of the greatest of respect for her achievement here. In a remarkable way, she fulfils all that was required of a Hitchcock blond: cool on the outside, with fire inside. In fact there's a moment early in the film where she is photographed from Vic's point of view, from behind and slightly above, with a hairdo reminiscent of Kim Novak's in Vertigo. One wonders whether the movie-going that was so evidently part of life in the town spills over into Vic's imagination at this point.
This is the work of a director who seems to have fallen out of favour in recent years, and there is a case to be made that he somehow lost his way. But A Kind of Loving is one of a trio of films, along with Billy Liar and Sunday Bloody Sunday, of which any director could be proud. Of the rest of his output, perhaps only his final collaboration with Alan Bates, An Englishman Abroad, has the same balance of clear observation and compassion.
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