Once upon a time in my youth, I was guilty of turning my nose up at black and white films. Now I live in a constant state of regret of how many cinematic opportunities I missed out on. What a tool. There is a significant simplistic beauty to a black and white film that has been discarded by the bullying of state of the art technology, which is a tragic shame. It doesn’t all have to be explosions and CGI (looking at you Michael Bay) because if the narrative is strong enough then the development of this can be enough to satisfy an audience. A Kind of Loving is exactly that. Set in the 60s in Manchester, this the hangover after that initial “love at first sight” intoxication.
Vic Brown, a young draughtsman played by Alan Bates, falls hard and falls fast for an employee at the same company by the name of Ingrid Rothwell. The outstandingly beautiful June Ritchie captures the innocence and understandable ignorance of this character, in her big screen debut no less. The two flirt like kids in secondary school by passing notes via mutual acquaintances and speaking nervously and without guilt to each other. It’s all very lovely…until they make the beast with two backs.
Vic seduces Ingrid into some sexy time; all consensual and all fun. Some time passes and Ingrid drops the bollock that she’s with child. Well that’s what happens when you fuck around with nothing on your downstairs ding-a-ling. Vic reluctantly does the right thing and puts a ring on it and they bugger off somewhere on a coach for their honeymoon, all the while Ingrid’s battle-axe of a mother is making it abundantly clear that Vic has not yet achieved her seal of approval. Upon returning from their honeymoon, the newlyweds move in with Ingrid’s delightful mother and things rapidly go from bad to fucking terrible. Vic and the wicked witch of the North West trade insults and never hide their disdain for one and other, Vic begins boozing like a semi-pro and pukes all over the front room but worse of all is that Ingrid miscarries. It all becomes far too much for our Vic to handle so he legs it. Conversations held with both of Vic’s parents make him understand the mistake he’s made and seeks to make amends.
John Schlesinger directs a wonderful yet subtle class separation, highlighted through the contrast between Vic’s parents and Ingrid’s mother. More specifically how Vic sees his mother cleaning the windows to her house and how Ingrid’s mother speaks to her window cleaner like a bag of turd nuggets. Vic even defends the poor window cleaner, quite rightly as he’s done nothing wrong but he’s subconsciously defending his working class heritage. His own mother cleans her own windows and Ingrid’s mother is horrible to her window cleaner so he’s interpreting that as a personal attack. This is stemmed from the fact that Ingrid’s mother openly voices her opinion that Vic is not good enough for her daughter. This again can be perceived as class snobbery so it’s no fucking wonder the two clash if that is the prejudice being projected.
A Kind of Loving is an escape to a gratifyingly simpler time. A time when half a pint of bitter only cost half a shilling (whatever that is), it wasn’t illegal to smoke indoors, cinemas were jam-packed with eager beavers and World War II was now a generation ago. The only worry in life was when you got married. The film starts with Vic’s sister’s wedding so from the off it’s a big theme throughout. All Vic wants is to find someone like his sister (not his mother, fuck you Freud) and hopefully Ingrid can be that. Vic’s infatuation with his sister is a bit odd but don’t let that ruin this charming portrayal of the novel of the same name by Stan Barstow.
Dir: John Schlesinger
Scr: Willis Hall
Cast: Alan Bates, June Ritchie, Thora Hird
Prd: Joseph Janni
Music: Ron Grainer
Run time: 112 mins
A Kind of Loving is available on DVD, Blu-Ray and EST now.