Albert Finney

Written By: - Date published: 10:57 am, February 9th, 2019 - 15 comments
Categories: film - Tags: , ,

Whatever people say I am, that’s what I’m not.

English actor Albert Finney had died, aged 82.

Finney’s career was astonishing; his breakthrough was in the lead role in ‘kitchen sink’ drama Saturday Night, Sunday Morning in 1960.

Over the next 50 years he starred in a kaleidoscope of roles; Tom Jones, Scrooge, Hercule Poirot, Annie’s Daddy Warbucks, Winston Churchill, lawyer Ed Masry in Erin Brockovich, Leo O’Bannon in Millers Crossing, the list is long and starred.

5 times nominated for an Oscar, he never won. However, his films often did pick up awards, which might indicate how seamlessly he played his roles. He was an integral part of the movies he made, but never flashy or actorly.

Finney used his success to help others get their start in the film game. He bankrolled and publicised the early works of Lindsay Anderson (If… and its follow-up O Lucky Man!) and Mike Leigh’s 1971 debut Bleak Moments.

Albert Finney will always be remembered as one of cinemas ‘angry young men’. The late fifties and early sixties in British stage and cinema were dominated by plays and films that were not just reflective of post war life, but actively dismissive of the pillars of the state and society.

In 1957, British PM Harold Macmillan said the people have never had it so good.

Finney’s cynical machinist Arthur Seaton said we’ve never had it at all.





15 comments on “Albert Finney”

  1. patricia bremner 1

    He certainly had a variety of roles in cinema and stage. Always believable, Should have had an Oscar. Scrooge Hercule Poirot and Winston Churchill, three memorable roles played by an interesting man. Well done Albert Finney. We will raise a glass to you, and watch a few of your movies. Thanks Te Reo Putake.

  2. greywarshark 2

    After watching the WW1 They shall never gow old by Peter Jackson and team,
    at the end of which those who had survived came back to Brit and were turned down for jobs, not much help, no-one understanding what hell they had been put through and survived, the whole schemozzle (great Yiddish word), having been a separate affair from real life back at home, I have a feeling for the background of the machinist.

    In 1957, British PM Harold Macmillan said the people have never had it so good.
    Finney’s cynical machinist Arthur Seaton said we’ve never had it at all.

  3. Ad 3

    Nice job in Skyfall Albert.

  4. Marla Hughes 4

    He was absolutely wonderful in “Under the Volcano.” Finney declined Royal honours, thinking them snobbish. From all I’ve ever read or heard about him, he was a lovely human being. RIP

  5. greywarshark 5

    I connect Finney with Alan Sillitoe author of Saturday Night, Sunday Morning (1958).

    There were some deep thinking books about the nature of society and relationships then.

    And John Braine’s book Room at the Top – 1957. Made into an acclaimed film.

    And also Alfie, book by Bill Naughton a play and film 1966 (I think) and the book came later. ‘The best ever novel for men | Books | The Guardian”‘ But the
    popular male actor in the film was Michael Caine. It also had a hit theme song.

    Bill Naughton’s brief bio says a lot about the chances for an ordinary bloke in that time to get on in life, but now where are the jobs to get started.

    Bill Naughton –his full name was William John Francis Naughton—was a popular ‘working class’ author and playwright who was born in Ballyhaunis, County Mayo, Ireland in June 1910 and died in early January 1992 in Ballasalla, Isle of Man.

    He was four years old when his family moved to Bolton, Lancashire, where, after leaving school around 1924, he worked as a weaver, coal-bagger and lorry-driver, enjoying a variety of experience and knowledge before starting to write with a rare honesty and perception about ‘ordinary’ people.

    Although ‘Alfie’ is the play with which he will always be associated, mostly because of the film starring Michael Caine, he was a prolific writer of quality work which included such notable plays as ‘My Flesh My Blood’, ‘All In Good Time’; plus novels, short stories and children’s books. Two other plays were made into films –‘Spring and Port Wine’, with James Mason as Rafe Crompton, and ‘The Family Way’, which starred John Mills. His work also included ‘One Small Boy’, ‘A Roof Over Your Head’, and short story collections such as ‘Late Night on Watling Street’ ‘The Bees Have Stopped Working’, and ‘The Goalkeeper’s Revenge’. Among his most popular autobiographical works, well worth seeking out, are ‘On The Pig’s Back’ and ‘Saintly Billy’.

  6. swordfish 6

    “The late fifties and early sixties in British stage and cinema were dominated by plays and films that were not just reflective of post war life, but actively dismissive of the pillars of the state and society.”

    Yep. While middle class hippies would have you believe everything was deeply conservative and conformist up until they made a bit of a splash in the summer of 1967 … the reality is that the late 50s / early 60s era was at least as decisive a turning point. Certainly in the arts … but also arguably in social mores too.

    Probably in part fuelled by the rise of post-war consumer society and the inevitable backlash against McCarthyism. Arrival of ‘The Pill’ right at the start of the 60s playing its own decisive role, of course.

    • Ad 6.1

      Fuelled by a Labour government that represented and funded the working class and its media representation.

      • greywarshark 6.1.1

        And alsd by a possibly latent resentment against the post-WW2 austerity (they were still rebuilding and paying back the USA lease-lend financial commitments.
        As rationing continued and things were sslow to improve there would have been a feeling of ‘I thought we were fighting for a decent life in a free country and it isn’t turning out that way’.

        • swordfish

          Yep. There’s a good argument that it was the Korean War that finally did for the Attlee Govt. They’d promised to end the more cumbersome rationing (& thus the worst of austerity) by a certain date & then very suddenly had to renege as a consequence of all the extra military expenditure (in order to both sustain their alliance with the US … and avoid Red Smears from the Conservatives in the intense Cold War atmosphere).

          Some historians have argued that that was the breaking point for a decisive minority of erstwhile Labour voters – especially women. A chunk of Labour’s new (1945) middle class supporters swung back to the Tories at the 1950 Election … in 1951 it was disproportionately women who crossed the divide.

      • swordfish 6.1.2

        Not in Britain, Australia or Canada. All Tory Govts.

        (and it was very much the UK I was thinking of (Albert Finney / Kitchen Sink dramas) rather than NZ – Tory Govt from 1951-64 in UK)

        Not sure the New Zealand working class had all that much in the way of media representation, Ad. The Wellington-based Labour-aligned Paper The Southern Cross had folded back in 1951 & I think I’m right in suggesting The Standard had disappeared by 1960 (thus barely flourishing during the Nash Govt).

        WWII, of course, itself playing a decisive role. Took a wee while to fully manifest but subterranean disenchantment with the Post-War order had been bubbling away since the mid 40s. You can usually expect some sort of social shake up in the aftermath of massive sacrifice.

        • Ad

          Wasn’t aware that Albert Finney came from New Zealand, but I know you can explain the relevance.

          There’s plenty of good studies on how the working class were represented in British cinema, and of course how British film was funded by the state – even under the Tories after Attlee. Labour strengthened the cultural institutions, the Conservatives as ever just continued them.

          Sure there are plenty of “Kitchen Sink” variants, but not all of it is a reaction formation. Most of it got made because there was good funding, and new writers were making it into the four new television franchises from 1954. From which we got the great Coronation Street.

          • swordfish

            Wasn’t aware that Albert Finney came from New Zealand, but I know you can explain the relevance.

            What th’ bleedin hell ??? … I feel like I’ve just been ambushed in a perfectly executed pincer movement by a rising young Party activist at the top of his game.

            Obviously there’s been some sort of absolutely ghastly misunderstanding.

    • SHG 6.2

      But the era in which the Baby Boomers reached adulthood was the most important era of human history, Baby Boomers wouldn’t lie about such a thing.

  7. Marcus Morris 7

    First saw him in Saturday Night and Sunday Moring and he was superb in Tom Jones. A brilliant actor and sadly missed.

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