No Love for Johnnie

No Love for Johnnie is a 1961 British drama film in CinemaScope directed by Ralph Thomas. It was based on the book of the same name by the Labour Member of Parliament Wilfred Fienburgh, and stars Peter Finch. It depicts the disillusionment and cynicism of a rebellious leftist Labour MP, who seeks escape in a relationship with a younger woman.

No Love for Johnnie
Directed byRalph Thomas
Written byMordecai Richler, Nicholas Phipps
StarringPeter Finch
Stanley Holloway
Music byMalcolm Arnold
CinematographyErnest Steward
Edited byAlfred Roome
Distributed byThe Rank Organisation (UK)
Embassy Pictures Corporation (USA).
Release date
9 February 1961 (World Premiere, London
14 February 1961) (UK)
12 December 1961 (US)
Running time
110 minutes
CountryUnited Kingdom

The film had its world premiere on 9 February 1961 at the Leicester Square Theatre in London's West End.


Johnnie Byrne, a cynical and burnt-out Yorkshire Labour MP, whose career has seemingly stalled due to his ostensibly leftist leanings, is re-elected with the victorious Labour Party after a General Election. Bitter not to receive an invitation to join the Government, his left-wing wife leaves him, and he accepts an invitation to lead a conspiratorial group of MPs working against the centrist government. Mary, the single woman upstairs, adores him but they never quite become a couple. Johnnie falls in love with a 20-year-old student/model Pauline, and misses making an important speech against the Government's militaristic plans because he is in bed with her. His conspirators turn against him and cause his local party to attempt to deselect him. He narrowly escapes a vote of no-confidence in his constituency, and goes in search of Pauline who has ended their relationship, still in love, but knowing it is not the right relationship for her. He goes back home, to find his wife who wants to try again, and she gives him her phone number. The Prime Minister offers him a post, and reveals that the reason Johnnie was not offered one before was due to his wife's communist connections. Johnnie tears up the paper with his wife's phone number and embraces his role in government.

Finch won two film awards for this performance - one a BAFTA, and the other the Silver Bear for Best Actor at the 11th Berlin International Film Festival.[1]



Ralph Thomas later said "we made that because we wanted to make it very much. We all loved it - Betty, myself, Peter Finch."[2]

Betty Box said she was "very surprised Rank let me do it... because they were very politically conservative as an organisation. Perhaps they liked the Peter Finch character being so corrupt because, after all, he was left wing. I must say I liked it very much... I enjoyed making it very much. I loved working with Peter Finch. He was drunk some of the time, and not always very easy, but I was just very fond of him. Ralph and I both knew how to work with him."[3]

Music was by Malcolm Arnold, the score containing themes similar to those from Whistle Down the Wind, which he also scored the same year. Arnold produced music scores for more than a hundred films, among these The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957), for which he won an Oscar.

There is a brief appearance of a young Oliver Reed as a bohemian party-goer.


Thomas says the film "got great notices although it was never a commercial success, didn't even pay for itself... it very much reflected the politics of the day. The plain fact is that people were not very interested in the politics of the day."[2]

Finch won his third BAFTA for Best Actor playing MP Johnnie Byrne.


  1. "Berlinale 1961: Prize Winners". Retrieved 23 January 2010.
  2. Brian McFarlane, An Autobiography of British Cinema 1997 p 559
  3. Brian McFarlane, An Autobiography of British Cinema 1997 p 87
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