Saturday Night and Sunday Morning is a 1960 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.
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 who rebels against the oppressive system of his elders (in this case, the character of Arthur).
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, and demands his help in terminating 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; when his aunt's method of having Brenda sit in a hot bath and drink gin does not work, Arthur provides Brenda with the name of a doctor who performs illegal abortions. However, Brenda decides that she will keep the child after all, and suffer the consequences.
Brenda's husband Jack finds out about her pregnancy and her affair with Arthur, and enlists the help of his brother and a fellow soldier to chase Arthur down through a town fairground (where he has taken Doreen on a date) and give him a severe beating. Arthur is trapped on an amusement ride as the two soldiers menacingly stand and wait for him. When he escapes the ride, he is 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, 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.
Much of the exterior filming was done on location 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 filmed in Wembley with the assistance of Nottingham builders Simms Sons & Cooke who set up a staged "building site" on location.
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 went on general release on the ABC cinema circuit from late January 1961 and was a popular success, being the third most popular film at the British box office in that year. It earned over half a million pounds in profit.