Sons and Lovers (film)

Sons and Lovers is a 1960 British black and white film adaptation of the D. H. Lawrence 1913 novel of the same name. It was adapted by T. E. B. Clarke and Gavin Lambert, directed by Jack Cardiff,[3] and stars Trevor Howard, Dean Stockwell, Wendy Hiller, Mary Ure, William Lucas and Donald Pleasence.

Sons and Lovers
film poster
Directed byJack Cardiff
Produced byJerry Wald
Written byT. E. B. Clarke
Gavin Lambert
StarringTrevor Howard
Dean Stockwell
Wendy Hiller
Mary Ure
Music byMario Nascimbene
CinematographyFreddie Francis
Edited byGordon Pilkington
Distributed byTwentieth Century Fox
Release date
May 1960
Running time
103 minutes
CountryUnited Kingdom
Box office$1,500,000 (US/ Canada)[2]

Freddie Francis won an Academy Award for Best Cinematography for his work using CinemaScope on Sons and Lovers and the film received nominations in six additional categories,[4] and was entered into the 1960 Cannes Film Festival.[5]


A young man with artistic talent who lives in a close-knit, English coal-mining town during the early 20th century finds himself inhibited by his emotionally manipulative, domineering mother — a literary, psychological interpretation of the Oedipus story.

Gertrude Morel, miserable in her marriage, puts her hope into her son, Paul. In seeking to maintain her involvement in and influence over Paul's life, she jealously attempts to prevent Paul from having a relationship with the girl he is seeing, Miriam. Miriam too suffers from a maternal influence - her mother has imbued in her a distaste for sex. Paul drops Miriam but becomes enchanted with self-actualized and "liberated" feminist co-worker, Mrs. Clara Dawes, who is married, though separated. Paul and Clara become involved sexually and Clara realizes that Paul's emotional attachment, as with her own, lies with another person — in Paul's case, his mother.

Gertrude learns of Paul's involvement with Clara, and slips into a morose depression and, later, serious physical sickness. Clara rejects Paul due to his lack of emotional connection to her and her continuing feelings for her husband. Paul flees to his terminally ill mother, to care for her and sit by her side. After his mother's death, Paul meets again the girlfriend of his youth, Miriam and rejects her proposal of marriage, telling her that he intends to live the rest of his life without any serious relationship with another woman.



Sons and Lovers was filmed on location in Nottingham, England and at the Pinewood Studios, Iver Heath, Buckinghamshire, England. The musical theme by Mario Nascimbene was arranged for both piano and orchestra.


Bosley Crowther of The New York Times wrote: "Sons and Lovers is sensitively felt and photographed in Jerry Wald's British-made film version of (Lawrence's novel). ... Jack Cardiff, cameraman turned director, has filled it with picture poetry. ... The drabness of a north-of-England coal town, the warmth of a poor coal miner's home, the bleakness of the wintry English country near Eastwood, where Lawrence was born — all are caught and concentrated in this film, appropriately black-and-white, which puts forth the generalized Lawrence story in a stunning pictorial style. ... (T)he most dynamic and emotional character in the film is the discarded miner-father, played brilliantly by Trevor Howard. His frequent violent flare-ups of rebellion, his pitiful complaints of chagrin and his always underflowing indications of a sense of being not wanted and alone are perhaps the most clear articulations of the theme of frustration in the tale. Through him is expressed most intensely the realization of the mortality of young love."[6]

Academy Awards

Award Nominee Result
Best Picture Jerry Wald (producer) Nominated
Best Actor in a Leading Role Trevor Howard Nominated
Best Actress in a Supporting Role Mary Ure Nominated
Best Director Jack Cardiff Nominated
Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium T. E. B. Clarke, Gavin Lambert Nominated
Best Cinematography (Black and White) Freddie Francis Won
Best Art Direction-Set Decoration, Black-and-White Thomas N. Morahan, Lionel Couch Nominated



  1. Solomon, Aubrey. Twentieth Century Fox: A Corporate and Financial History (The Scarecrow Filmmakers Series). Lanham, Maryland: Scarecrow Press, 1989. ISBN 978-0-8108-4244-1. p252
  2. "Rental Potentials of 1960", Variety, 4 January 1961 p 47. Please note figures are rentals as opposed to total gross.
  3. Jack Cardiff
  4. "NY Times: Sons and Lovers". NY Times. Retrieved 23 December 2008.
  5. "Festival de Cannes: Sons and Lovers". Retrieved 19 February 2009.
  6. Bosley Crowther, "Tepid Passions: Lawrence's 'Sons and Lovers' Has Premiere" 3 August 1960
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