A juvenile offender (Sir Tom Courtenay) at a tough reform school impresses its Governor (Sir Michael Redgrave) with his running ability and is encouraged to compete in an upcoming race, but faces ridicule from his peers.
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.
Arthur, one of Britain's angry young men of the 1960s, is a hardworking factory worker who slaves all week at his mindless job for his modest wages. Come Saturday night, he's off to the pub for a loud and rowdy beer session. With him is Brenda, his girlfriend of the moment. Married to a fellow worker, she is nonetheless captivated by his rugged good looks and his devil-may-care attitude. Soon a new love interest Doreen enters and a week later, Brenda announces she's pregnant. She tells Arthur she needs money for an abortion, and Arthur promises to pay for it. By this time, his relationship with Doreen has ripened and Brenda, hearing of it, confronts him. He denies everything, but it's obvious that their affair is all but over.Written by
Its amazing to look at this film which transformed British Cinema and introduced the angry young man that would later been seen in films like 'The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner' and 'This Sporting Life'.
The fact that it shocked audiences and local authorities because of its themes covering sex and abortion show that this was a time when a great deal of change was taking place in British society. Although I wasn't around then, things must have been changing very rapidly as six years later 'Alfie' was able to confront these issues full on whereas Karel Reisz's film merely hints at them.
This film also established Albert Finney as a national star and he was soon to become an international star with the wonderfully bawdy 'Tom Jones'. Its always interesting to see the films that established the actors we admire and I'm certainly a fan of Albert Finney so I was shocked when I saw this film and felt that he wasn't really very good in it.
The opening scene where his character, Arthur Seaton, is counting the parts he is making in his factory seemed to introduce a highly overwrought man that shouted all the time. Thankfully the unnecessary 'anger' at the start was toned down later but I still felt at the end that Finney could have done greater justice to his role.
Walking around with a straight back and his chest out, talking twice as loud as he needs to seemed to resemble an angry old man rather than an angry young man and I almost expected him to talk about how kids nowadays didn't know they were born.
Its unusual that an actor from a working class background didn't convince me when playing a character that was not that dissimilar from himself whilst actors like Tom Courtenay in 'Loneliness...' and particularly Richard Harris in 'This Sporting Life' did it much better.
However, I gradually found myself being more and more absorbed in this film as it started to develop a storyline and move away from a young man being angry simply for the sake of it.
Rachel Roberts excels in her role as the married woman who becomes pregnant by Seaton and its a shame that this actress has been forgotten when you consider her performance here and the marvellous one she gave opposite Harris in 'This Sporting Life'.
Shirley Anne Field also does well as Doreen the girl looking to settle down and it is in her relationship with Seaton where I disagree with many people's assessment of the film.
Its generally said that Seaton hates the idea of conformity but in the end accepts it. However I feel that the film is much more hopeful than that as he realises that love and marriage is not necessarily a trap that only fools rush into and that there is much more to conventional life than he had originally anticipated.
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