Sunday Bloody Sunday (1971)

sunday bloody sunday poster 1971 movie
9.0 Overall Score
Story: 9/10
Acting: 9/10
Visuals: 8/10

Unusual story for the time

Very loose story

Movie Info

Movie Name:  Sunday Bloody Sunday

Studio:  Vectia

Genre(s):  Drama/Romance

Release Date(s):  July 1, 1971 (Premiere)/September 8, 1971 (US)

MPAA Rating:  R

sunday bloody sunday greenwich glenda jackson murray head

He’s my sorta boyfriend

Divorcee Alex Greville (Glenda Jackson) and gay Jewish doctor Daniel Hirsh (Peter Finch) find themselves sharing the time of artist Bob Elkin (Murray Head).  As Elkin bounces between the two, each find themselves falling in love and questioning what love is to them.  Bob Elkin is young and up-and-coming and may not be something either one can hold on to.

Directed by John Schlesinger, Sunday Bloody Sunday is a drama.  The film was critically acclaimed when it was released and received Academy Award nominations for Best Director, Best Actor (Finch), Best Actress (Jackson), and Best Original Screenplay.  The Criterion Collection released a remastered version of the film (Criterion #629).

Midnight Cowboy is one of my favorite films and Sunday Bloody Sunday was Schlesinger’s follow-up.  He had a lot more freedom and as a result he made a really original film that seems ahead of its time.

sunday bloody sunday alex daniel in bed peter finch murray head

He’s my guy…sort of

What most critics note about Sunday Bloody Sunday is that it doesn’t demonize homosexuality.  Finch is a respected doctor who does have relationship problems (as indicated by running into the guy he had previously picked up), but he is pretty normal with a normal relationship with Murray Head.  Likewise Glenda Jackson is a divorcee who is rather normal and the conflict really isn’t between the two people in love with Head, but what they are doing with their lives.

The cast is strong.  Glenda Jackson gets the “easier” role as a woman trying to spice up her life with Head, and since her role isn’t controversial, her strong performance is sometimes overlooked.  Peter Finch got his role after a lot of other actors backed out and both he and Head are pretty fearless in their portrays as couple in a time when even “pretending” to be gay wasn’t in many actors’ roles because of the stigma (you could argue that Midnight Cowboy changed that a little with the attention from the Academy Awards).  Head is good as the “boy toy” character, but sometimes he only feels like a boy toy, and I wish his character had been more developed.  It is also notable that Daniel Day-Lewis makes his big screen debut (uncredited) in this film as one of the boys who is keying cars on the picnic day.

sunday bloody sunday daniel alex meet peter finch glenda jackson

Well…this is awkward…kind of

The movie has that gritty-’70s look even though it is primarily a romantic drama.  The London of Sunday Bloody Sunday is both pretty and dark.  It feels real, but a nice contrast to the New York City of Midnight Cowboy.  This is tempered with scenes with the family, the Jewish ceremony, the picnic, and the party in which characters are allowed to socialize and have fun (at least for a while…the dog scene is grueling).

Sunday Bloody Sunday is a modern movie made in a time when movies were really starting to experiment and try new things.  The movie isn’t necessarily a romance since the relationship between the characters is so jaded and temperamental…they mostly feel lost and stuck between real relationships.  The film isn’t for everyone, but it is a film that is full of more thought and real characters than most movies.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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