Sunday, Bloody Sunday (1971)
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As London veers towards financial collapse, three people engage in a bi-sexual love triangle, with the world crashing down around them, in John Schlesinger's thought-provoking tale Sunday Bloody Sunday. The object of affection is Bob Elkin (Murray Head), an artist in his twenties, who constructs kinetic gallery pieces out of glass and metal. Bob divides his love between successful London doctor, Dr. Daniel Hirsch (Peter Finch) and Alex Greville (Glenda Jackson), an intelligent, divorced woman in her 30s who works at an employment office. Alex loves Bob, but when she realizes that Bob takes off to spend time with Daniel, she becomes jealous. In frustration at Bob's intimacies with Daniel, she proceeds with an affair with a middle-aged business executive (Tony Britton). They make love at Alex's home, and then Bob arrives. Bob is nonplused about her affair, but Alex decides that she can no longer continue sharing Bob with Daniel. After attending a bar mitzvah together, Alex and Bob have a confrontation, resulting in Bob having to decide on either Alex or Daniel. … More
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Critic Reviews for Sunday, Bloody Sunday
at its best plays as a powerful, deeply human reminder of how desperate we can be for connection, however compromised it may be
Years after being made, this emotionally mature drama is still poignant and touching. It holds an important place in film history offering what's the first positive image of a gay lead character--that he's Jewish doctor makes it even more significant.
A bold film filled with powerful performances.
...the film's '70s excess prevents it from ever becoming anything more than a time-capsule curiosity.
Groundbreaking character study very much of its time, but still worthwhile.
Audience Reviews for Sunday, Bloody Sunday
A divorcee and a doctor vie for the affections of a young businessman.
John Schlesinger's British character study is a slow-moving, complex story of human relationships and sexuality. It's a film that i should like, but I found myself waiting for a central conflict to emerge. Everything remained under the surface, in classically British subtext.
The performances are all nuanced and strong, especially Glenda Jackson and Peter Finch who play overly cerebral characters; their best work is in silence, when they're thinking, processing, scheming.
Overall, I wish I could say that I enjoyed this film more, but it failed to grab me.
After his global triumph with the revolutionary film "Midnight Cowboy" (winner of the Best Picture Oscar for 1969), English filmmaker John Schlesinger came back in 1971 with the equally revolutionary "Sunday Bloody Sunday."
It stars Peter Finch and Glenda Jackson as two middle-aged Londoners struggling for the attention of a young bisexual artist whom they share. Murray Head plays the artist.
Partisans of gay liberation, such as myself, want very much to herald this film because of its extreme courage in openly showing two men kissing and making love and presenting it matter-of-factly. One cannot overstate how radical this was for well-known actors and an Oscar-winning director to do in 1971.
But the truth can't be denied. It's a dull film. There isn't much of a story. Schlesinger wanted to do a slice-of-life depiction of English culture at this extraordinary time when revolution was in the air. Everything was questioned, including how we raise children, establish families, and establish romantic relationships.
The problem is that the depiction is not that gripping. The slice-of-life approach can only work if the presentation of day-to-day life is filled with visual poetry. Visually, "Sunday Bloody Sunday" is rather pedestrian. Whereas "Midnight Cowboy" was an overpowering work of visual art, with extraordinarily poetic use of music, "Sunday Bloody Sunday" is visually flat, without the slightest bit of inspiring music. It has all the sonic poetry of a phone ringing.
What little story arc there is consists of the artist planning a long trip to America and disappointing both of his middle-aged lovers. We listen over and over to Peter Finch and Glenda Jackson whine to the artist that he's not spending enough time with them, while he flits mercurially from one to another.
This is not a menage-a-trois. There are two separate relationships. Finch and Jackson know of each other's existence, but they only meet at the tail end of the film. The artist never lies to either one of them. All cards are on the table.
I like the critique of non-monogamous "no strings" relationships, which became quite the rage in the 1970s, with young bisexual men embodying this perhaps most quintessentially. But it isn't explored in enough depth or with enough poetry to be interesting for more than about a half-hour. After an hour, I was sick of hearing the characters whine to each other, saying very little.
I love that Schlesinger and his cast had the guts to do a film like this at this time. I just wish they had more to say with the project. The first on-screen kiss between two men is not enough on which to build a film. That's just not enough to warrant 90 minutes of viewing. As I once said about Martin Scorsese's brave project "New York, New York," I admire the cojones but not the final product.
Sunday, Bloody Sunday Quotes
- Dr. Daniel Hirsh:
- When you're at school and you want to quit, people say 'You're going to hate it out in the world.' Well, I didn't believe them and I was right. When I was a kid, I couldn't wait to be grown up, and they said 'Childhood is the best time of your life.' Well, it wasn't. And now, I want his company and they say, 'What's half a loaf? You're well shot of him'; and I say 'I know that... but I miss him, that's all' and they say 'He never made you happy' and I say 'But I am happy, apart from missing him. You might throw me a pill or two for my cough.' All my life, I've been looking for somebody courageous, resourceful. He's not it... but something. We were something. I only came about my cough.
- Dr. Daniel Hirsh:
- I always expect Saturday to be the best day of the week.
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