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Sunday Bloody Sunday (1971)

R | | Drama | 8 September 1971 (USA)
1:33 | Trailer

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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 »


John Schlesinger


Penelope Gilliatt (screenplay)
Nominated for 4 Oscars. Another 12 wins & 7 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Peter Finch ... Daniel Hirsh
Glenda Jackson ... Alex Greville
Murray Head ... Bob Elkin
Peggy Ashcroft ... Mrs. Greville
Tony Britton Tony Britton ... Mr. Harding
Maurice Denham ... Mr. Greville
Bessie Love ... Answering Service Lady
Vivian Pickles ... Alva Hodson
Frank Windsor ... Bill Hodson
Thomas Baptiste ... Prof. Johns
Richard Pearson ... Patient
June Brown June Brown ... Woman Patient
Hannah Norbert Hannah Norbert ... Daniel's Mother
Harold Goldblatt Harold Goldblatt ... Daniel's Father
Marie Burke ... Aunt Astrid


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 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. Written by Jeremy Perkins {J-26}

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


It's about three decent people. They will break your heart.




R | See all certifications »





English | Italian | Hebrew | French

Release Date:

8 September 1971 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Bloody Sunday See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Alan Bates was the original choice made by John Schlesinger for the role of Daniel Hirsh, the homosexual doctor. However, he was held up filming The Go-Between (1971) and was replaced, first by Ian Bannen and later by Peter Finch. However, the role of Daniel is written as that of a much younger man. See more »


Alex: I'm not angry with you. I bought it because I love you. I bought your terms and they were - rotten terms and I shouldn't have done it. My fault.
Bob: You keep asking too much.
Alex: For God's sake! Caring a lot about someone, is that too much! People that have some tie for each other, is that too much?
See more »


Referenced in Heroes Reborn: Sundae, Bloody Sundae (2015) See more »


Here We Go Loopty Loo
Children's song
[Played on the phonograph during the montage of Alex and Bob playing with the Hodson children.]
See more »

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User Reviews

This movie is *not* dated
18 December 2012 | by bandwSee all my reviews

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 individually.

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.

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