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Them was rotten days.
--Aunt Ada

Arthur Seaton lives with his parents in a working-class Nottingham neighbourhood, works as a machinist, and gets sloshed on the weekend. He doesn't see much point in living for anything but pleasure, since that would amount to being ground down by the bastards what are in charge of things. He's having an affair with a work-mate's wife, Brenda, but he's also interested in Doreen, an attractive woman nearer his own age. He gets into fights, raises suspicions among the police, and tries to get Brenda an abortion. It wasn't legal in England back then, which meant it could only be obtained without difficulty by the wealthy. His lifestyle choices come to a head against the background of a fairground midway, with friends of Brenda's husband in pursuit and Doreen wondering if her boy will ever settle down. Less a black and white film than a grey one, Karel Reisz's 1960 kitchen sink drama has proven a lasting success. Like its successor, The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner, it takes its characters, basic plot, and grit from an Alan Sillitoe novel and has since eclipsed its source in popular culture.

It also made the career of Albert Finney, then twenty-four. He really gives a smashing performance as an Angry Young Man in the day when even a yob wore a tie on a date. The film continues to resonate. The Kinks name-dropped Arthur in "Where Are they Now?" The Smiths quoted the film at least twice in their oeuvre, while Madness, The Stranglers, the Arctic Monkeys, and K-OS all nicked its title in their musical works.

274 words

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