|Page 1 of 5:||    |
|Index||49 reviews in total|
After reading about John Schlesinger's death I felt the need to revisit some of his considerable opus. I couldn't decide where to start, Billy Liar, Darling, Far From The Madding Crowd or Sunday Bloody Sunday. If a film could really penetrate the brain of a character, Sunday Bloody Sunday, showed it to me. I saw into Peter Finch's soul to such degree I was kind of embarrassed and compelled at the same time. Murray Head, personifies what Finch's character longs for and is kind of horrified by. Glenda Jackson and Peter Finch play the imperfect angles of this painfully human triangle. The charming shallowness of Murray Head's character made me understand the complexity of knowing and accepting all of our darkest contradictions. John Schlesinger was a great artist.
I first saw this at 17 in 1971 and was of course struck by the frankness in the portrayal of the relationship between Murray Head and Peter Finch. People in the suburban audience where I saw it SCREAMED when the two men first kissed. (Someone screamed at a director's screening of the film, much to Schlesinger's consternation. It turned out to be Finch's wife.) One of the reviewers complained about Head's acting, but he is playing a very shallow character whose youth and beauty attract Glenda Jackson and Finch. The film holds up really well today with its complex characters and lack of stereotypes and simple judgments about people. There is also enormous charm and humor in the film, especially in the supporting players. The imagery in the film stays with me--the dog killed by a car, the Mummy's milk in the fridge, the inner workings of telephone switching, driving through the rain in London, men and women making love, precocious children smoking dope, and so much more. It feels like life. It also made me a lifelong fan of Finch, who went on to win a posthumous Oscar for "Network," and Jackson, a two-time Oscar winner, who represents Hampstead in Parliament now. Probably my favorite film of all time.
This was a step forward for Schlesinger. After the grim working class
stories--A Kind of Loving, with Alan Bates and June Ritchie miserable
over an unwanted pregnancy; Billy Liar with Tom Courtenay constantly
fantasizing as a way of coping with his dull life--we got Darling, a
slick bit of commercial film-making with Julie Christie. Then the trip
to New York for Midnight Cowboy, a picture so empty, and so honored by
the Academy, that I feared he would become just another hack, a la
Instead we get a character study, one of the best films of the last three decades. Daniel Hirsch is drowning in respectability; a Jewish doctor who can't muster the courage to come out because the congregation wouldn't understand, so resigns himself to matchmaking attempts by his mother. Alex Greville works with high level job candidates, whom she can sleep with to chase the boredom away. She wants a husband, but her mother advises her to accept that half a loaf is better than none. Bob Elkin is the love object for both; a handsome and really shallow young man who thinks about his future a lot, and realizes that it doesn't involve either Alex or Daniel.
So many wonderful scenes: Bob and Alex visit friends for the weekend. Bob raids the fridge, finds some milk. Alex tells him it's mother's milk--phwoah! Daniel has a party; a woman starts yelling at her husband about the au pair girl he's been sleeping with. Bob wants to leave; his aesthetic sense is offended by this unseemly display of emotion. Daniel wants him to stay, to provide moral support, but Bob is just too selfish to listen. There is always the feeling that disaster is just around the corner, that the triangle will soon collapse.
Glenda Jackson and Peter Finch are just about perfect as the adults in this situation, and Murray Head, if he doesn't show any great acting ability, at least makes us believe in his desirability. He went on to perform roughly the same role as Annie Girardot's lover in La Mandarine.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Is it better to share a lover than to have none at all? This is the
central question of John Schlesinger's Sunday Bloody Sunday, a study of the
lives of two people, a gay middle-aged Jewish doctor (Peter Finch) and a
thirtyish employment aide (Glenda Jackson), who are romantically intertwined
with a boyish artist (Murray Head) who treats them both with a dismissive
The aspect of the story that immediately flies against film convention is that both are aware of the other lover's existence (instead of the mystery leading to some climactic discovery at the end). The film cuts from Finch to Jackson in their daily routines and private moments in dealing with the situation: Jackson (slightly desperate), Finch (occasionally frustrated but cool). What is extraordinary is the depth Schlesinger brings to these characters,the disappointment, the loneliness, the silent longing, the too-rare passion.
Much is made of the on-screen kiss between Finch and Head, probably semi-shocking in 1971, now not only palpable but expected. Yet there are so many scenes of simple beauty: Finch assuring a worried patient he doesn't have cancer, Jackson discussing the pain of being in love with her mother, who is in her own pain in a dysfunctional marriage, Finch being robbed by an ex-lover, Jackson commiserating with a fifty-something unemployed executive at the office (they go to bed later). Head, as the flighty lover, seems to be in a constant state of jilting; he leaves Jackson flat in the middle of a "romantic weekend" to visit Finch; later, he bails out on Finch when a party of theirs gets out of control. The imagery is great, and pure Schlesinger (although less effective than that in Midnight Cowboy). The internal workings of the telephone is a terrific shot, and so is the hallucination/fantasy of Jackson, imagining the girl dead instead of the dog, then flashing back to a childhood fear realized in a dream. When Head leaves them both at the end to go to America on a whim, the characters are left to ponder a life without love. Jackson strains to understand in a beautifully acted scene- her line about it being hard work to care a lot for someone is the most touching. Finch is more well-adjusted and content with developments, as he makes clear in a speech directly to the camera, another nice touch. Finch and Jackson are brilliant in the roles, Murray Head acceptable, but less satisfying, and Peggy Ashcroft has a moment as Jackson's mother. This is just short of being a great Schlesinger picture, but still a very good, intelligent one. 3*** 1/2 out of 4
"Sunday Bloody Sunday", which tells the story of two older adults
(Glenda Jackson and Peter Finch) who are discreetly in an parallel
relationship with a young, irresponsible artist (Murray Head), has
never appeared on free television (i.e.: U.S. network and syndicated
television). Unlike John Schlesinger's previous movie of two years
earlier, the Oscar-winning "Midnight Cowboy", I have never seen this
movie in a sanitized, edited version and I'm very glad of that.
Former New Yorker movie critic Penelope Gilliatt wrote a brilliant character study. In a very quiet, non-judgmental and unassuming way, I wonder if the story is a bit of an autobiography in the life of openly gay director John Schlesinger?
Very adult, thought-provoking and extremely well-acted, "Sunday Bloody Sunday" was made in 1971 and despite some dated 70s trappings, is still way ahead of most movies that deal with the subjects of sexuality and adult relationships.
Perhaps due to the global discontent brought on by the Viet Nam War and
the Russian-Afgan War, the early 1970' saw the end of a period of idealism
and the dawn of an age of realism, far too real in many instances. Movies
were no exception to this general social trend in American and European
When "Sunday Bloody Sunday" was released in 1971, it was a major jolt to the "film world." There, in all its wide screen splendor and glory was a major production with a major league cast and state of the are writing, direction, and production that flaunted as comonplace the unspoken trio of adult sexual taboo: Homosexuality, Bisexuality and Insest. And this was all presented in an apparently normal setting with apparently normal persons who could be, God forbid, us.
This was no British working class low budget avant guard "Saturday Night and Sunday Morning" about the people who we had too often become and through familiarity learned to despised. This was the Upper middle class world where we all imagined ourselves eventually destined to live. And the real shock of it was that we weren't repulsed or appalled. We were if anything, drawn to it. The characters are intelligent, educated, sympathetic, honest to a reasonable degree, at least with each other and very pretty to look at. The situations are all too real. The problem is that "Sunday Bloody Sunday is "life as you find it" and not "life as you'd wish it to be."
Today the shock is gone. It is a beautifully smooth and taught production to be sure, but no longer anything new. Still, "Sunday Bloody Sunday" is one of the movies that changed the movies, as well as American and European Society in the middle of the second half of the Twentieth century. Don't miss a chance to see it.
When I saw this film in 1971, I was too young to understand the basic
human compassion that Schlesinger and Gilliat were examining when they
collaborated on the film.
Having just watched the DVD again, I am truly stunned at how relevant the film has remained. I have never seen anything like it: Glenda Jackson struggles with her own fears of selfishly needing Murray Head; Peter Finch struggles with trying NOT to need/have expectations of him, all the while forgiving Murray Head for never being able to be needed or to meet his expectations.
It is the most adult love story I know.
Difficult to believe that this brilliant little film is 41 years old
because it still feels fresh and vibrant the way his other films remain
(Midnight Cowboy, Billy Liar, Darling, etc). It is as mature an
examination of love in all its aspects as any film that has been placed
on the screen since. The acting by an impeccable cast and the
cinematography are first rate, but it is Schlesinger's sure hand that
carved this story into our memories.
Divorced workingwoman Alex (Glenda Jackson) and well-to-do Jewish family doctor Daniel Hirsh (Peter Finch) share not only the same answering service but also the sexual favors of the young handsome artist Bob Elkin (Murray Head) who bed-hops between them as the mood takes him. Both Alex and Dr Hirsh are aware of the other's existence but prefer to live with the situation rather than risk losing Elkin completely. But a wet winter weekend in London can be difficult. Exceptional cameo roles are filled by Peggy Ashcroft as the doctor's mother and by Richard Loncraine as Bob's partner and Jon Finch who manages to epitomize the London street hustler.
There have been several films that have attempted to take on the matter of ménage a trois tales but none has approached the subject of the complexities of romantic relationships with the style and aplomb achieved here. It is a masterwork.
I recently saw Sunday, Bloody Sunday and thought it was brilliant. I was suprised it came out in 1971, it is definitely ahead of its time. The highlight of the movie is Peter Finch's role - it took guts to take a role like this back then. I'm glad he eventually went on to win the oscar for Network.
This is the story of a love triangle between Dr. Hirsh (Peter Finch),
Alex Greville (Glenda Jackson), and Bob Elkin (Murray Head). Hirsh is a
dignified Jewish doctor, Alex is a frustrated office worker, and Elkin
is an artist specializing in kinetic sculpture. Both Hirsh and Alex are
in love with Elkin and he reciprocates in turn to each of them
If being dated is judged by the physical environment of the early 1970s (dial land-line phones, 33 rpm records, antiquated fuse boxes, dated hair styles, and so forth), then, yes, this is dated. But the movie is not dated in terms of its themes. I think this could play out now pretty much as presented here, even in our somewhat more enlightened times. It would not be out of the ordinary for a dignified middle-aged doctor to withhold public advertisement of his sexual orientation, but none-the-less privately engage in a homosexual relationship. In fact it would not be all that unusual for such a person to remain in the closet. Consider that sodomy was a crime in fourteen U.S. states until a Supreme Court decision invalidated such laws in 2003, in a 5-4 vote no less. Homosexual acts had been decriminalized in England but a few years before this movie was made. And we have a current justice on the U.S. Supreme Court who even now, in 2012, makes such statements as, "If we cannot have moral feelings against homosexuality, can we have it against murder?"
Where the movie is perhaps even ahead of its time is in presenting all three participants as accepting themselves for what they are and honestly dealing with their situation without serious guilt or dramatic jealousies. The difficulties of sustaining such a ménage à trois are realistically detailed.
I thought the beautifully filmed Bar Mitzvah was crucial to the story. Until that event I was viewing Hirsh as an essentially lonely person, but seeing that he had a community of relatives and associates who respected him disabused me of that notion. And Hirsh did not view himself in an unfavorable light. The scene that had Finch talking directly to the audience at the end was a great piece of acting; when he so simply and sincerely said, "We had something," I really felt for the guy. Glenda Jackson fans will not be disappointed with her performance. She has a wonderful way of saying things without speaking a word.
I rather like how the story begins in the middle of things--it takes very little imagination to see how this situation could have evolved. What did Alex and Hirsh see in the shallow and ambitious Elkin? You don't have to have lived too long before the questions about romantic relations, "What does he see in her," or, "What does she see in him," occur. In this case, I suppose the question of "What does he see in him," should be added. Questions of love and sex are not easily explained.
The way we get to know each person in increments, with some limited use of flashbacks, I found to be effective.
|Page 1 of 5:||    |
|External reviews||Plot keywords||Main details|
|Your user reviews||Your vote history|