Up until the late 1950s ‘serious’ British cinema was solely the preserve of the middle and upper classes. The only time working-class directors got a look-in was for comic relief. That all changed with the advent of the kitchen sink drama which became the primary British cinematic voice for the best part of a decade. Films such as Saturday Night, Sunday Morning, Kes, This Sporting Life and The Loneliness of the Long Distance shocked and entranced audiences. Alan Bates became a household name. A Kind of Loving is one of his best films.
Vic (Bates) is a young draughtsman in a factory in Manchester with an eye for the ladies. He pursues Ingrid (June Ritchie), a typist at the same company, and the pair begin to date. She falls in love with him but he’s more interested in having some fun. Ingrid’s rebuts his sexual advances but after finally relenting she becomes pregnant and Vic feels compelled to marry her. After the honeymoon the couple move in with her domineering mother (Thora Hird) and the brittle relationship begins to fall apart.
John Schlesinger’s film is a snapshot of Northern life in the early 60’s. It’s great to hear so many Northern accents and see so many familiar faces. There are appearances from James Bolam, Leonard Rossiter and of course Hird. Despite some of the drama on screen, A Kind of Loving is often a gleeful experience. There’s something refreshingly naive and innocent about the period, and whilst there are darker overtones Schlesinger is liberal with the dry humour.
A Kind of Loving is released on Blu-ray and DVD by Studiocanal on Monday.