Sunday Bloody Sunday (film)
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Sunday Bloody Sunday is a 1971 British drama film written by Penelope Gilliatt, directed by John Schlesinger and starring Murray Head, Glenda Jackson, Peter Finch and Peggy Ashcroft. It tells the story of a free-spirited young bisexual artist (played by Head) and his simultaneous relationships with a divorced female recruitment job consultant (Jackson) and a male Jewish doctor (Finch).
|Sunday Bloody Sunday|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||John Schlesinger|
|Produced by||Joseph Janni|
|Written by||Penelope Gilliatt|
|Music by||Ron Geesin|
|Edited by||Richard Marden|
|Distributed by||United Artists|
The film is significant for its time in that Finch's homosexual character is depicted as successful and relatively well-adjusted, and not particularly upset by his sexuality. In this sense, Sunday Bloody Sunday was a considerable departure from Schlesinger's previous film Midnight Cowboy (1969), which portrayed its gay characters as alienated and self-loathing, as well as other gay-themed films of the era, including Boys in the Band (1970) and Some of My Best Friends Are... (1971).
Set in London, the film tells the story of a middle-aged Jewish doctor, Daniel Hirsh (Peter Finch), and a divorced woman in her mid-30s, Alex Greville (Glenda Jackson), who are both involved in an open love triangle with sculptor Bob Elkin (Murray Head), a younger man in his mid-20s. Not only are Hirsh and Greville both aware that Elkin is seeing the other but they know one another through common friends. Despite this, they are willing to put up with the situation through fear of losing Elkin, who switches freely between them.
For Greville, the relationship is bound up with growing disillusion about her professional life, failed marriage and uneasy childhood. For Hirsh, it represents an escape from the repressed nature of his Jewish upbringing. Both realize the lack of permanence about the situation and when Elkin decides to leave the country to settle in New York City, after receiving an offer to open his own art gallery, that they both come face to face (for the first time in the narrative at the end). Despite their opposed circumstances, Hirsh and Greville come to realize that it is time to move on; Elkin leaves for the United States.
- Peter Finch as Dr. Daniel Hirsh
- Glenda Jackson as Alex Greville
- Murray Head as Bob Elkin
- Peggy Ashcroft as Mrs. Greville
- Tony Britton as George Harding
- Maurice Denham as Mr. Greville
- Bessie Love as Answering Service Lady
- Vivian Pickles as Alva Hodson
- Frank Windsor as Bill Hodson
- Thomas Baptiste as Professor Johns
- Richard Pearson as Patient
- June Brown as Woman Patient
- Hannah Norbert as Daniel's Mother
- Harold Goldblatt as Daniel's Father
- Russell Lewis as Timothy Hodson
- Marie Burke as Aunt Astrid
- Caroline Blakiston as Rowing Wife
- Peter Halliday as Rowing Husband
- Jon Finch as Scotsman
- Robert Rietti as Daniel's Brother
- Douglas Lambert as Man at Party
- Nike Arrighi as Party Guest
- Edward Evans as Husband at Hospital
- Gabrielle Daye as Wife at Hospital
- Esta Charkham as Barmitzvah Guest
- Petra Markham (uncredited) as Designer's girlfriend
- Daniel Day-Lewis (uncredited) as Child vandal
- John Warner (uncredited) as Party Guest
- Martin Lawrence as the Rabbi
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- Alan Bates was the original choice made by John Schlesinger for the role of Daniel Hirsh, the gay doctor. However he was held up filming The Go-Between (1970) and was replaced first by Ian Bannen, who dropped out after two weeks' filming, and later by Peter Finch. However, the role of Daniel was written as that of a much younger man.
- Several actresses (including Dame Edith Evans and Thora Hird) politely refused the part of Glenda Jackson's mother, Mrs. Greville, because they thought the project was too risqué. Peggy Ashcroft accepted after the director explained to her the elements of the story and she gladly signed on.
- Ian Bannen was fired from the role of Daniel Hirsh shortly after filming began. Apparently, he was so nervous about what kissing another actor on screen might do to his career, he could not concentrate enough to even get going with the part. He later said that losing the role set back his career, and regretted it till his death.
- Daniel Day-Lewis made his film debut in an uncredited role as a vandal. He described the experience as "heaven", for getting paid £2 to vandalize expensive cars parked outside near St Alfege Church, Greenwich.
Peter Rainer of Bloomberg News wrote,"It's Finch's finest moment as an actor (and literally a far cry from his most famous role as the "mad prophet of the airwaves" in Network). As for Jackson, she was never better, more variegated. . ."
This film appeared on both Roger Ebert and Gene Siskel's Top 10 list of 1971, listed as No. 5 and No. 6 respectively. Roger Ebert commented, "The official East Coast line on John Schlesinger's Sunday Bloody Sunday was that it is civilized. That judgment was enlisted to carry the critical defense of the movie; and, indeed, how can the decent critic be against a civilized movie about civilized people? My notion, all the same, is that Sunday Bloody Sunday is about people who suffer from psychic amputation, not civility, and that this film is not an affirmation but a tragedy...I think Sunday Bloody Sunday is a masterpiece, but I don't think it's about what everybody else seems to think it's about. This is not a movie about the loss of love, but about its absence."
Awards and nominationsEdit
- Best Director (John Schlesinger) – Nominated
- Best Actor (Peter Finch) – Nominated
- Best Actress (Glenda Jackson) – Nominated
- Best Original Screenplay (Penelope Gilliatt) – Nominated
- Best English-Language Foreign Film – Won
- Best Actor – Motion Picture Drama (Peter Finch) – Nominated
- Best Film – Won
- Best Direction (John Schlesinger) – Won
- Best Actor in a Leading Role (Peter Finch) – Won
- Best Actress in a Leading Role (Glenda Jackson) – Won
- Best Screenplay (Penelope Gilliatt) – Nominated
- Best Cinematography (Billy Williams) – Nominated
- Best Editing (Richard Marden) – Won
- Best Sound (David Campling, Simon Kaye, Gerry Humphreys) – Nominated
Other awards and nominationsEdit
- David di Donatello for Best Foreign Director (John Schlesinger) – Won
- Directors Guild of America Award for Outstanding Directing – Feature Film (John Schlesinger) – Nominated
- National Society of Film Critics Award for Best Actor (Peter Finch) – Won
- National Society of Film Critics Award for Best Screenplay (Penelope Gilliatt) – Won
- National Society of Film Critics Award for Best Cinematography (Billy Williams) – 3rd place
- New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Screenplay (Penelope Gilliatt) – Won
- New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actor (Peter Finch) – 2nd place
- Writers Guild of America Award for Best Original Screenplay (Penelope Gilliatt) – Won
- Writers' Guild of Great Britain Award for Best British Original Screenplay (Penelope Gilliatt) – Won