Sunday Bloody Sunday

Sunday bloody sundayI was keeping a very detailed journal for a few days in the early part of 1972, so I happen to know what I was doing on Friday evening January 7 of that year; I attended the movie Sunday Bloody Sunday with Rich, a fellow from work.

Which surprised me when I came across that journal not too long ago, as I would have sworn that that movie was one of the ones that I saw with Steve Crosby.

Oh, well.

I watched it again last evening, for the first time since then, and I came away with mixed feelings. Some parts of the movie are very good, but there are other parts that simply drag and I kept wondering why is this scene in there or why is that scene going on so long.

Still, the parts that are good are very, very good, and probably make the movie worth seeing.

By the way, the flick features the uncredited film debut of a thirteen or fourteen year old (I’ve heard it both ways) actor who would make quite a name for himself in later years. Here’s the clip. I’ll put his name at the end of this post.

Here’s the Criterion Collection’s description:

John Schlesinger followed his iconic Midnight Cowboy with this deeply personal take on love and sex. Sunday Bloody Sunday depicts the romantic lives of two Londoners, a middle-aged doctor and a prickly thirtysomething divorcée—played with great sensitivity by Peter Finch and Glenda Jackson—who are sleeping with the same handsome young artist (Murray Head). A revelation in its day, this may be the seventies’ most intelligent, multitextured film about the complexities of romantic relationships.

What’s most surprising for the time that it was released is that it treats the gay and bisexual characters completely matter-of-factly, given that homosexuality had only been de-criminalized about four years earlier in Britain (yes, it had actually been illegal to be a homosexual in the UK).

I believe that the on screen kiss that occurs early on between Murray Head and Peter Finch was probably the first male to male kiss to appear on British or American cinema. In fact, Ian Bannen was fired from the role eventually taken by Finch because he was so nervous about the kiss. 

The film was nominated for four Oscars: for Jackson and Finch for acting, Schlesinger for directing, and Penelope Gilliatt for screenplay, though it didn’t win any.

I’m sorry if I seem rather lukewarm in my recommendation for the film, but I think it’s another one of those films that has suffered from being too highly praised, so once again I was expecting a little too much. I’m not even sure which of the two Sundays that are depicted in the film constitute the Bloody Sunday of the title, or perhaps its both of them.

Watch it for yourself and let me know what you think.

By the way, my Amazon link is for the Criterion Collection Blu-ray which doesn’t have a commentary track though it does have interviews with many of the folks involved. I opted to get the Blu-ray that was produced in the UK which has a commentary track by so-called film historian Amy Simmons, but I found her commentary to be very disappointing. She doesn’t even acknowledge the existence of prior film  The Boys in the Band.


The actor playing the juvenile delinquent is Daniel Day Lewis.

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