Sunday Bloody Sunday (1971)

Sunday Bloody Sunday (1971)

Taglines: It’s about three decent people. They will break your heart.

Divorced working woman Alex and well-to-do Jewish family doctor Daniel Hirsh share not only the same answering service but also the favours of young Bob Elkin who bed-hops between them as the mood takes him. Both Alex and Dr Hirsh are aware of the other’s existence but prefer to live with the situation rather than risk losing Elkin completely. But a wet winter weekend in London can be difficult.

Sunday Bloody Sunday is a 1971 British drama film written by Penelope Gilliatt, directed by John Schlesinger and starring Murray Head, Glenda Jackson and Peter Finch. It tells the story of a free-spirited young bisexual artist (played by Head) and his simultaneous relationships with a female recruitment consultant (Jackson) and a male Jewish doctor (Finch).

The film is significant for its time in that Finch’s homosexual character is depicted as successful and relatively well-adjusted, and not particularly upset by his sexuality. In this sense, Sunday Bloody Sunday was a considerable departure from Schlesinger’s previous film Midnight Cowboy, which had portrayed its gay characters as alienated and self-loathing, as well as other gay-themed films of the era, including Boys in the Band, and Some of My Best Friends Are…. The film was released before the 1972 shooting by the British Army of unarmed protesters in Derry, Northern Ireland, an event dubbed “Bloody Sunday.”

About the Story

Set in London, a middle-aged Jewish doctor, Daniel Hirsh (Peter Finch), and a young woman in her mid-30s, Alex Greville (Glenda Jackson) are both involved in a love triangle with contemporary sculptor Bob Elkin (Murray Head), a younger man in his mid-20s. Not only are Hirsh and Greville both aware that Elkin is seeing the other but they know one another through common friends. Despite this, they are willing to put up with the situation through fear of losing Elkin, who switches freely between them.

For Greville, the relationship is bound up with a growing disillusionment about her professional life, failed marriage and uneasy childhood. For Hirsh, it represents an escape from the repressed nature of his Jewish upbringing. Both realise the lack of permanence about their situation and it is only when Elkin decides to leave the country to settle in New York City after receiving an offer to open his own art gallery to display and sell his artwork, that they both come face to face (for the first time in the narrative at the end). Despite their opposed situations, both Hirsh and Greville come to realize that it is time to move on and Elkin leaves for the USA.

Sunday Bloody Sunday Movie Poster (1971)

Sunday Bloody Sunday (1971)

Directed by: John Schlesinger
Starring: Peter Finch, Glenda Jackson, Murray Head, Peggy Ashcroft, Tony Britton, Maurice Denham, Bessie Love, Vivian Pickles
Screenplay by: Penelope Gilliatt
Production Design by: Luciana Arrighi
Cinematography by: Billy Williams
Film Editing by: Richard Marden
Costume Design by: Jocelyn Rickards
Art Direction by: Norman Dorme
Music by: Ron Geesin
Distributed by: United Artists
Release Date: July 1, 1971