Sunday Bloody Sunday (film)

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Not to be confused with Bloody Sunday (film).
Sunday Bloody Sunday
Sundaybloodysunday.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by John Schlesinger
Produced by Joseph Janni
Edward Joseph
Written by Penelope Gilliatt
Starring Murray Head
Glenda Jackson
Peter Finch
Peggy Ashcroft
Music by Ron Geesin
Cinematography Billy Williams
Edited by Richard Marden
Production
  company
Vectia
Distributed by United Artists
Release date(s)
  • 1 July 1971 (1971-07-01)
Running time 110 minutes
Country United Kingdom
Language English

Sunday Bloody Sunday is a 1971 British drama film written by Penelope Gilliatt, directed by John Schlesinger and starring Murray Head, Glenda Jackson and Peter Finch. It tells the story of a free-spirited young bisexual artist (played by Head) and his simultaneous relationships with a female recruitment consultant (Jackson) and a male Jewish doctor (Finch).

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, which had portrayed its gay characters as alienated and self-loathing.

The film was released before the 1972 shooting by the British Army of unarmed protesters in Derry, Northern Ireland, an event dubbed "Bloody Sunday."

Synopsis[edit]

A Jewish doctor, Daniel Hirsh (Peter Finch) and a young woman, Alex Greville (Glenda Jackson) are both involved in a love triangle with contemporary sculptor Bob Elkin (Murray Head). Not only are Hirsh and Greville aware that Elkin is seeing the other but they know one another through mutual 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 a growing disillusionment about her life, failed marriage and uneasy childhood. For Hirsh, it represents an escape from the repressed nature of his Jewish upbringing. Both realise the lack of permanence about their situation and it is only when Elkin decides to leave the country that they both come face to face (for the first time in the narrative and at the end). Despite their opposed situations, both come to realize that it is time to move on.

Cast[edit]

Production notes[edit]

  • 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 week's 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 onscreen 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.
  • Actor Daniel Day-Lewis made his film debut at the age of 14 in this film as a vandal in an uncredited role. He described the experience as "heaven", for getting paid £2 to vandalize expensive cars parked outside his local church.

Music[edit]

The film makes extensive use of source music including a recurring motif of the trio Soave sia il vento from Mozart's opera Così fan tutte.

Reception[edit]

The film currently holds a 91% 'Fresh' rating on Rotten Tomatoes.[1]

This film appeared on both Roger Ebert's 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 nominations[edit]

Sunday Bloody Sunday was nominated for four Academy Awards: Best Actor (Peter Finch), Best Actress (Glenda Jackson), Best Director (John Schlesinger), and Best Original Screenplay (Penelope Gilliatt). Gilliatt won several Best Screenplay awards for the film, including the New York Film Critics Circle Award, Writers Guild of America, and Writers' Guild of Great Britain.

It won the BAFTA Award for Best Film. It also won acting honors for Finch and Jackson, as well as Best Director for Schlesinger.

References[edit]

External links[edit]

Awards
Preceded by
Women in Love
Golden Globe for Best Foreign Film
1972
Succeeded by
The Emigrants