Cast & Crew
Vic Brown, a draftsman in a Lancashire factory, becomes strongly attracted to one of the firm's typists, Ingrid Rothwell. After several dates, Ingrid allows Vic to spend the night at her home while her widowed mother is out of town. Vic now realizes that what he feels for Ingrid is almost purely physical, but Ingrid has become more deeply involved and tries to seek assurance that she is still loved. Vic allows the affair to drop, but at a company dance Ingrid reveals that she is pregnant, and he reluctantly offers to marry her. After a brief honeymoon, they move in with Ingrid's mother, a narrow-minded and possessive woman deeply resentful of Vic. The life of the young couple becomes increasingly tense. Ingrid eventually has a miscarriage, and Vic is suddenly struck with the realization that their wedding was not necessary. Henceforth, Ingrid refuses to have sex with him. Following a drunken spree and a scene with his mother-in-law, Vic storms out of the house and turns to his happily-married sister for comfort. Instead she rebukes him for not living up to his responsibilities, and he returns to Ingrid. Now willing to look at his life in a more mature manner, he persuades her to leave her interfering mother and help him find a home of their own. Perhaps with cooperation and compromise, they will be able to attain "a kind of loving."
A Kind of Loving
No less bracingly urgent were the films of the British New Wave, although in its own time, few called it that. Hardly had John Osborne burst upon the scene with his play and then film Look Back in Anger (1959, Tony Richardson) than that generation's often scalding output led them to be called Angry Young Men. On the play's opening night in 1956, audience members gasped at the sight of an ironing board in the play's shabby flat. The arrival the same year of Room at the Top (1959) erased any last shred of doubt about the thematic thrust of this assaultive new body of work, now referred to as kitchen-sink drama. These new working-class heroes wanted in. The floodgates were open. In short order followed semi-documentary renderings of the alienated protagonists of Saturday Night and Sunday Morning (1960), The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Runner (1962), This Sporting Life (1963), and others. By the mid-1960s, though, the wind had gone out of the movement's sails.
But not before giving us two of the genre's most memorable films, both based in and around Manchester, the sooty brick-bound factory hub often acknowledged as the grimmest of the grim. Yet Tony Richardson's A Taste of Honey (1961) and John Schlesinger's debut film, A Kind of Loving (1962) share a rueful, even wistful quality, not immediately apparent because of the scorching impatience in the surprisingly subtle performance of Alan Bates in the latter. He plays Vic Brown, a young draftsman in a Manchester factory who has caught his boss's eye and has reason, as the first member of his working class family to land a white-collar job; Vic believes he's going places and he articulates his dream of traveling en route up the economic and social ladders. Things get complicated, though, when he falls for June Ritchie's typist, who is yieldingly sweet but beneath whose blond bouffant hairdo not much is going on apart from gossip, movies, and starting to think about how she'd like to decorate the flat she sees herself moving to away from her mother's baleful eye.
Drawing upon Sam Barstow's novel, with a screenplay by Keith Waterhouse and Willis Hall, Schlesinger obviously gave careful thought to choosing his settings. Manchester and its oft-gritty environs are a presence in the drama, not mere backdrops. It's hard to tell where the ingrained soot leaves off and the bricks begin in the rows of cramped houses. It's an environment designed to squeeze the soul out of one. In contrast to the mean, pinched houses and improvised football patches on cracked pavement are the towering smokestacks and cooling towers of what seems ever more oppressively an industrial gulag. (There's an irony here - while you can see what any dweller there would want to escape, they also were aware of the imminent Welfare State that would bulldoze many of the cramped dirty little houses and better the lot of Mancunians.) Still, until that flowering, Vic is stuck in the tiny rooms he shares with his mother, father, older sister and two younger brothers, where no surface is undecorated in an anthology of kitsch and which the sister escapes when we see her posing for post-marriage photos on the steps of the blackened church entrance.
Essentially, A Kind of Loving comes down to a clash between Vic's hormones and his ambition. He not only gets pretty, compliant Ingrid, he gets her pregnant, which forces a marriage much earlier than either of them can handle. Money being in short supply, they move in with her mother - as played by the beloved Thora Hird, she's one of the great gorgons of British film, with her Jetson spectacle frames and an altogether unwarranted patronizing attitude, based presumably on the fact that she's one sliver above the Browns in their pathetic pecking order. She's the living embodiment of Penelope Gilliatt's great crack about the population of Britain consisting of sixty million experts on the class system. Inevitably, the marriage begins disintegrating fast, the low point coming when he returns drunk one night and vomits behind the sofa, as his mother-in-law shrieks "You come into this house drunk. Filthy drunk! You're filthy! You talk filth! You are filthy! You're filthy. You filthy disgusting pig. Filth! Filth!"
This is probably the place to say that Schlesinger and his cast find subtleties it would be easy to miss. He and Hird miraculously avoid the pitfalls of caricature, and in ways that never placate. We feel she loathes her son-in-law, but there's also something in her ferocity that communicates protectiveness of her daughter. Bates's subtleties are even more remarkable. The vomiting scene behind the couch and his crude and at time brutish treatment of Ingrid is never played for charming roguishness. But he communicates a soft side, too, most often around his parents and siblings in their confining but warm and loving quarters. As his parents, Bert Palmer and Gwen Nelson bolster the film importantly, especially Palmer. As a man who has spent his life working for British Railways, he's content with his lot, upbeat and chipper despite having lived through two world wars, a couple of economic depressions and most recently postwar austerity. It remains only to add that Ritchie, who went on to a long career in TV work, holds up her end of the collaboration, too, convincingly projecting unforeseen strengths of her own as Ingrid. The film wasn't a big hit, but Vic Brown is one of the best performances of Bates's distinguished career, and there's more to A Kind of Loving than many acknowledged.
Producer: Joseph Janni
Director: John Schlesinger
Screenplay: Willis Hall, Keith Waterhouse (screenplay); Stan Barstow (novel)
Cinematography: Denys Coop
Art Direction: Ray Simm
Music: Ron Grainer
Film Editing: Roger Cherrill
Cast: Alan Bates (Victor Arthur 'Vic' Brown), Thora Hird (Mrs. Rothwell), Bert Palmer (Mr. Geoffrey Brown), Pat Keen (Christine Harris), James Bolam (Jeff), Jack Smethurst (Conroy), Gwen Nelson (Mrs. Brown), John Ronane (Draughtsman), David Mahlowe (David Harris), Patsy Rowlands (Dorothy).
by Jay Carr
A Kind of Loving
Sir Alan Bates (1934-2003)
Born Alan Arthur Bates on February 17th, 1934 in Derbyshire, England, Bates was the son of amateur musicians who wanted their son to become a concert pianist, but the young man had other ambitions, bluntly declaring to his parents that he had his sights set on an acting career when he was still in secondary school. He eventually earned a scholarship to the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts in London, but had his career briefly interrupted with a two-year stint in the Royal Air Force. Soon after his discharge, Bates immediately joined the new English Stage Company at the Royal Court Theatre and by 1955 he had found steady stage work in London's West End theatre district.
The following year, Bates made a notable mark in English theatre circles when he starred as Cliff Lewis in John Osborne's charging drama about a disaffected, working-class British youth in Look Back in Anger. Bates' enormous stage presence along with his brooding good looks and youthfulness (he was only 22 at the time of the play's run) made him a star and promised great things for his future.
Four years later, Bates made a solid film debut in Tony Richardson's The Entertainer (1960) as the son of a failing seaside entertainer, played by Sir Laurence Olivier. Yet it would be his next two films that would leave an indelible impression in '60s British cinema; Bryan Forbes' Whistle Down the Wind (1961) and John Schlesinger's A Kind of Loving (1962). Bates' performances as a murderer on the lam who finds solace at a farm house in the company of children in the former, and a young working-class husband who struggles with his identity in a loveless marriage in the latter, were such finely nuanced portrayals of loners coping with an oppressive social order that he struck a chord with both audiences and critics alike. Soon, Bates was considered a key actor in the "angry young men" movement of the decade that included Albert Finney and Tom Courtney.
For the next ten years, Bates simply moved from strength to strength as he chose film roles that both highlighted his range and raised his stock as an international celebrity: reprising his stage role as the brutish thug Mick in the film adaptation of Harold Pinter's The Caretaker (1963); starring alongside Anthony Quinn as the impressionable young writer Basil in Zorba the Greek (1964); the raffish charmer Jos who falls in love with Lynn Redgrave in the mod comedy Georgy Girl; the bemused young soldier who falls in love with a young mental patient (a radiantly young Genevieve Bujold) in the subdued anti-was satire King of Hearts (both 1966); reuniting with director Schlesinger again in the effective period drama Far from the Madding Crowd (1967); a Russian Jew falsely accused of murder in John Frankenheimer's The Fixer (1968, remarkably, his only Oscar nomination); as Rupert, the freethinking fellow who craves love and understanding in Ken Russell's superb Women in Love (1969); playing Vershinin in Sir Laurence Olivier's underrated The Three Sisters (1970); opposite Julie Christie in Joseph Losey's tale of forbidden love The Go-Between (1971); and his moving, near-tragic performance as Bri, a father who struggles daily to maintain his sanity while raising a mentally disabled daughter in the snarking black comedy A Day in the Death of Joe Egg (1972).
Bates would slow down his film work, concentrating on the stage for the next few years, including a Tony award winning turn on Broadway for his role in Butley (1972), but he reemerged strongly in the late '70s in three good films: a conniving womanizer in The Shout; Jill Clayburgh's love interest in Paul Mazursky's hit An Unmarried Woman (1978); and as Rudge, Bette Midler's overbearing manager in The Rose (1979).
By the '80s, Bates filled out somewhat physically, but his now burly presence looked just right in some quality roles: as the notorious spy, Guy Burgess, in John Schlesinger's acclaimed mini-series An Englishman Abroad (1983); a lonely homosexual who cares for his incarcerated lovers' dog in the charming comedy We think the World of You (1988); and a superb Claudius in Franco Zeffirelli's Hamlet (1990).
Tragically, Bates lost his son Tristan to an asthma attack in 1990; and lost his wife, actress Victoria Ward, in 1992. This led to too few film roles for the next several years, although he remained quite active on stage and television. However, just recently, Bates has had some choice moments on the silver screen, most notably as the butler Mr. Jennings in Robert Altman's murder mystery Gosford Park (2001); and scored a great comic coup as a gun-toting, flag-waving Hollywood has-been in a very broad satire about the Canadian movie industry Hollywood North (2003). Also, theatre fans had a treat when Bates appeared on Broadway last year to critical acclaim (and won a second Tony award) for his portrayal of an impoverished 19th century Russian nobleman in Fortune's Fool (2002). Most deservedly, he was knighted earlier this year for his fine contributions as an actor in all major mediums. Sir Alan Bates is survived by two brothers Martin and Jon, son Benedick and a granddaughter.
by Michael T. Toole
Sir Alan Bates (1934-2003)
You know, it's a funny feeling. Sometimes I really fancy her, and the next day I can hardly stand the sight of her.- Vic
How dare you! How dare you say such filthy, disgusting things! You come into this house drunk, filthy drunk! You're filthy! You talk filth, you ARE filth! You're filth! You filthy pig! You filthy, disgusting pig! Filth, FILTH!- Mrs. Rothwell
Who named you Ingrid?- Vic
My mum. She named me after Ingrid Bergman. She was in "For whom the bells tolls", it is her favorite movie, and it came out the year I was born.- Ingrid
It's an unusual name for an English girl.- Vic
I guess, if I'd been a boy, she would have named me after Gary Cooper.- Ingrid
Vic, I need to talk to you.- Ingrid
Are you sure?- Vic
Yes. One has a way to know these things.- Ingrid
I am your husband, if only you'd know it.- Vic
How dare you do this to my daughter!- Mrs. Rothwell
I did good for your daughter! I married her!- Vic
Yes! After you seduced her!- Mrs. Rothwell
It would have been me or someone else, sooner or later.- Vic
Released in Great Britain in April 1961.
Released in United States Fall October 1, 1962
Limited re-release in United States April 7, 2017
Released in United States 2000
Directorial debut for John Schlesinger.
Released in USA on video.
Limited re-release in United States April 7, 2017 (New York)
Released in United States Fall October 1, 1962
Released in United States 2000 (Shown in New York City (Film Forum) as part of program "The British New Wave: From Angry Young Men to Swinging London" October 27 - November 16, 2000.)
Winner of the Golden Bear at the 1962 Berlin Film Festival.