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28th November 2002
Saturday Night director dies
Saturday Night and Sunday Morning
Arthur Seaton (Albert Finney) conquers again

A week that saw the final Raleigh bike roll off the Nottingham production line was also marked by the death of Czech-born film director Karel Reisz, aged 76.

Paul Fillingham


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Among Karel Reisz's other films were The French Lieutenant's Woman starring Meryl Streep.

Alan Sillitoe wrote a follow up to Saturday Night and Sunday Morning in 2001 called Birthday.

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Reisz began his career in 1960 with a film version of the seminal working class novel 'Saturday Night and Sunday Morning' which was penned by local author, Alan Sillitoe.

The film was shot on location in and around Nottingham's enormous Raleigh factory on Faraday Road, then the largest cycle manufacturing plant in the world.

Although most of the Raleigh factory has now gone, many of the film locations such as the Ropewalk, Derby Road, the Savoy Cinema in Lenton and Nottingham Castle are recognisable today.

The Eight Bells pub which featured in the film was demolished in the 1960s. Two of the house scenes were also shot at 5 Beaconsfield Terrace and 198 Norton Street, Radford.

Saturday Night and Sunday Morning
Albert Finney looks suitably moody as Arthur Seaton

Nottingham provided a perfect backdrop for the young Albert Finney, cast in the role of an abrasive young factory worker called Arthur Seaton.

"Don't let the bastards grind you down" spits Seaton, in a manner that would have been shocking to post-war cinema audiences.

Peppered with this kind of dialogue and tackling the theme of class struggle 'Saturday Night and Sunday Morning' put Reisz at the forefront of ‘New Wave cinema,’ a genre which dominated the British film industry for most of the early 60s.

'In the film, Finney wears his checked work-shirt like it had been woven from the very fabric of Raleigh and Radford,' remarks local historian Chris Richards.

'Covered in grease, and hair plastered with Brilliantine and factory sweat, his nicotine-stained fingers are never far away from the workbench or workmate’s wife!'

‘Saturday Night and Sunday Morning’ was superbly interpreted from Sillitoe’s script by Karel Reisz and spoke to a generation of post-war people of all classes in a manner never addressed before.

The cautionary tale sees Seaton’s initial rebelliousness diminished by several key events; including a relationship with a ‘well-to-do’ steady girlfriend, Doreen (Shirley Anne Field), an affair with a married woman leading to a terrifying back-street abortion, and subsequent punishment doled out by an aggrieved husband and his heavy-handed associates.

Ultimately, the young Raleigh worker looks beyond the limited horizons of his parent’s dark terraced streets and considers married life on a brand new council estate. Though the final scene to 'Saturday Night and Sunday Morning' appears to suggest that ‘the price of social mobility is submission and conformity’.

The likes of Karel Reisz and Raleigh Industries will never be seen by Nottingham again. But, when the remaining bit of the Raleigh factory site is finally redeveloped as city penthouses, it’s just possible that a present day Arthur Seaton will arrive home from his white-collar sweatshop one evening and realise that the themes expressed in 'Saturday Night and Sunday Morning' are as true today as they’ve ever been!

'Saturday Night and Sunday Morning' is being shown at the Broadway Cinema, Nottingham Friday 27th - Sunday 29th December 2002.

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