Saturday Night and Sunday Morning (film)

Saturday Night and Sunday Morning is a 1961 British drama film directed by Karel Reisz and produced by Tony Richardson. It is an adaptation of the 1958 novel of the same name by Alan Sillitoe, who also wrote the screenplay adaptation. The film is about a young machinist who spends his weekends drinking and partying, all the while having an affair with a married woman.

Saturday Night and Sunday Morning
Original British quad format cinema poster
Directed byKarel Reisz
Produced byTony Richardson
Harry Saltzman (executive producer)
Written byAlan Sillitoe
Based onSaturday Night and Sunday Morning by Alan Sillitoe
StarringAlbert Finney
Shirley Anne Field
Rachel Roberts
Hylda Baker
Norman Rossington
Music byJohn Dankworth
CinematographyFreddie Francis
Edited bySeth Holt
Distributed byBryanston Films (UK)
Release date
  • 27 October 1960 (1960-10-27) (UK)
  • 3 April 1961 (1961-04-03) (US)
Running time
89 min
CountryUnited Kingdom United States
Budget£100,000[2] or £116,848[3]
Box officeover £400,000 (UK)[4]

The film is one of a series of "kitchen sink drama" films made in the late 1950s and early 1960s, as part of the British New Wave of filmmaking, from directors such as Reisz, Jack Clayton, Lindsay Anderson, John Schlesinger and Tony Richardson and adapted from the works of writers such as Sillitoe, John Braine and John Osborne. A common trope in these films was the working-class "angry young man" character (in this case, the character of Arthur), who rebels against the oppressive system of his elders.

In 1999, the British Film Institute named Saturday Night and Sunday Morning the 14th greatest British film of all time on their Top 100 British films list.


Arthur Seaton is a young machinist at the Raleigh bicycle factory in Nottingham. He is determined not to be tied down to living a life of domestic drudgery like the people around him, including his parents, whom he describes as "dead from the neck up". He spends his wages at weekends on drinking and having a good time.

Arthur is having an affair with Brenda, the wife of an older colleague. He also begins a more traditional relationship with Doreen, a beautiful single woman closer to his age. Doreen, who lives with her mother and aspires to be married, avoids Arthur's sexual advances, so he continues to see Brenda as a sexual outlet.

Brenda becomes pregnant by Arthur, who offers to help raise the child or terminate the unwanted pregnancy (as abortion was not legal in Britain at the time of the film). Arthur takes her to see his Aunt Ada for advice. Ada has Brenda sit in a hot bath and drink gin, which does not work. Brenda asks Arthur for £40 to get an abortion from a doctor.

After Doreen complains about not going anywhere public with Arthur, he takes her to the fair where he sees Brenda. Arthur pulls Brenda aside, and she reveals that she has decided to have the child. As Arthur clings to her, she wriggles free because she is at the fair with her family. Arthur follows her on to an amusement ride and gets in a car with her. Brenda's brother-in-law and his friend notice her enter the ride and follow her, shocked to see Arthur riding with his arm around Brenda. Arthur escapes the ride, but he is later caught and beaten.

Arthur spends a week recovering and is visited by Doreen; they later have sex. After recovering, Arthur returns to work, and realises his affair with Brenda is finished after her husband tells him to stay away from Brenda. Arthur decides to marry Doreen. The film ends with Arthur and Doreen discussing the prospect of a new home together, with Arthur showing that he still has mixed feelings about settling down into domestic life.




Saturday Night and Sunday Morning was at the forefront of the British New Wave, portraying British working class life in a serious manner for the first time and dealing realistically with sex and abortion. It was among the first of the "kitchen sink dramas" that followed the success of the play Look Back in Anger. Producer Tony Richardson later directed another such film, The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner (1962), which was also adapted from an Alan Sillitoe book of the same name.

Saturday Night and Sunday Morning received an X rating from the BBFC upon its theatrical release. It later was submitted for re-rating for the home video release and given a PG rating.[5]

Filming locations

Much of the exterior location filming was shot in Nottingham, though some scenes were shot elsewhere. The night scene with a pub named "The British Flag" in the background was filmed along Culvert Road in Battersea, London, the pub being at the junction of Culvert Road and Sheepcote Lane (now Rowditch Lane).

The closing scenes show Arthur and Doreen on a grassy slope overlooking a housing estate with new construction going on. According to an article in the Nottingham Evening News on 30 March 1960, this was shot in Wembley with the assistance of Nottingham builders Simms Sons & Cooke who set up a staged "building site" on location.


Bryanston guaranteed £81,820 of the budget, the NFFC provided £28,000, Twickenham Studios provided £610 and Richardson deferred his producers fee of £965. The film went £3,500 over budget and two days over schedule when filming at a Nottingham factory proved more difficult than expected.[6]


Saturday Night and Sunday Morning opened at the Warner cinema in London's West End on 27 October 1960 and received generally favourable reviews. The film entered general release on the ABC cinema circuit from late January 1961 and was a box-office success, being the third most popular film in Britain that year. It earned over half a million pounds in profit.[7]

Bryanston earned £145,000 in profit on the film.[8]


Award Category Recipient(s) Result
British Academy Film Awards Best Film Karel Reisz Won
Best British Film Won
Best British Actor Albert Finney Nominated
Best British Actress Rachel Roberts Won
Best British Screenplay Alan Sillitoe Nominated
Most Promising Newcomer to Leading Film Roles Albert Finney Won
Mar del Plata International Film Festival Grand Award for Best Feature Film[9] Karel Reisz Won
Best Actor Albert Finney Won
Best Screenplay Allan Sillitoe Won
FIPRESCI Award Karel Reisz Won
National Board of Review Best Actor Albert Finney Won
Top Foreign Films Won

The film is the origin for the title of the debut album of indie rock band Arctic Monkeys, Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not.

It is also the origin for the title of the live album Saturday Night, Sunday Morning by The Stranglers.

"Saturday Night Sunday Morning" is the title of a song from Madness's 1999 album Wonderful.

The run-out groove on the B-side of vinyl copies of The Smiths' 1986 album The Queen Is Dead features the line "Them was rotten days," a line said by Aunt Ada (Hylda Baker) in the film.

Also the line said by Doreen before Arthur takes her to the fair, "Why don't you ever take me where's it lively and there's people?" inspired the song "There Is A Light That Never Goes Out" on the same album ("I want to see people and I want to see life"). Morrissey, the lead singer and lyricist of The Smiths, has stated that the film is one of his favourites.

Arthur Seaton is mentioned in the song "Where Are they Now?" by The Kinks, which appears on their album Preservation Act 1.

Arthur Seaton is also mentioned in the song "From Across the Kitchen Table" by The Pale Fountains.

The film is referenced, not least in the form of the promotional video, using elements of the original cinema poster's graphic design, in the 2013 Franz Ferdinand single "Right Action". Some of the song's lyrics were inspired by a postcard found by the band's lead singer Alex Kapranos for sale on a market stall, the postcard being addressed to the film's director, Karel Reisz.

See also


  1. The Times, 27 October 1960, pages 2: First advertisement for the film - found through The Times Digital Archive 14 September 2013
  2. Alexander Walker, Hollywood, England, Stein and Day, 1974 p. 88
  3. Petrie, Duncan James (2017). "Bryanston Films : An Experiment in Cooperative Independent Production and Distribution" (PDF). Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television: 7. ISSN 1465-3451.
  4. Petrie p 9
  5. Saturday Night and Sunday Morning BBFC page
  6. Petrie p 9
  7. Tino Balio, United Artists: The Company That Changed the Film Industry, University of Wisconsin Press, 1987 p. 239
  8. Petrie p 9
  9. "Mar del Plata Awards 1961". Mar del Plata. Retrieved 25 November 2013.
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