Sunday Bloody Sunday (1971)

Peter Finch gives a quietly devastating performance as the gay Jewish doctor bearing up through romantic crisis in John Schlesinger’s piercing and brilliantly observed suburban drama.

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Alternative titles

  • Bloody Sunday Working


“Sunday, Bloody Sunday is Schlesinger’s wisest, least sentimental film, an almost perfect realization of Penelope Gilliatt’s original screenplay.”
Vincent Canby, The New York Times, 1971

Film critic Penelope Gilliatt won plaudits for writing this sensitive account of bourgeois mores, but her script was secretly based on director John Schlesinger’s own troubled personal life, in which his male lover was also seeing another woman. Peter Finch is very touching as the Jewish physician who can’t confront his self-involved partner Murray Head for fear of losing him to romantic rival Glenda Jackson.

Avoiding overt melodrama, Sunday Bloody Sunday captures individuals caught between sexual yearning and emotional compromise, while drawing effective parallels between their private turmoil and the shambling state of early 1970s Britain. Were it not for director Schlesinger’s subsequent fall from critical favour, this would be regarded as one of the great British films of its decade.

The film was considered groundbreaking for its romantic triangle in which a bisexual man has both male and female lovers, a device repeated in the following year’s Cabaret (1972).

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