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MGM Studios DVD presents
Sunday Bloody Sunday (1971)

"Ok, I know you're not getting enough of me, but you're getting all there is."
- Bob (Murray Head)

Review By: Rich Rosell   
Published: September 14, 2003

Stars: Glenda Jackson, Peter Finch, Murray Head
Other Stars: Peggy Ashcroft, Tony Britton, Maurice Denham, Bessie Love, Vivian Pickles
Director: John Schlesinger

Manufacturer: WAMO
MPAA Rating: R for (nudity, mature themes)
Run Time: 01h:50m:12s
Release Date: September 16, 2003
UPC: 027616895370
Genre: drama

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
C+ C+C+B- C

DVD Review

Sunday Bloody Sunday was John Schlesinger's 1971 followup to the successful, edgy brilliance of Midnight Cowboy (1969), and he once again dips into the pool of daring, nonconformist storylines, this time setting the drama in England. I suspect that in 1971, the story of a man (Peter Finch) and a woman (Glenda Jackson) with the same lover (Murray One Night in Bangkok Head) was more shocking then than it is now; to Schlesinger's credit, he did leave us with a film anchored by two wonderful peformances—Jackson and Finch—but the tale is so lifeless and uneventful that enduring it is nothing short of a challenge.

Daniel Hirsh (Finch) and Alex Greville (Jackson), unknown to each other except for the answering service they share, eventually come to learn that they also share the love of the same man, a shaggy-haired young artist named Bob (Head). While Daniel struggles not just with the physical need for his lover, but with his own homosexuality, Alex is apparently feeling her biological clock ticking down and wants to turn her relationship with Bob into something more permanent. As expected, Daniel and Alex attempt to tighten their own individual hold on the artist, and they discover that it is like trying to capture a blob of mercury; Bob is such a free soul that he finds it easy to divide his time between the two and has no need for monogamy.

Schlesinger employs some unusual, casually arty visual gimmicks, such as emphasizing the symbolic tether of the answering service by following the internal workings of the phone system as various characters make dramatically urgent calls as the drama unfolds. We see wires and switchboxes and whirring mechanisms behind the walls as the calls connect, and as appealing as these moments are, they seem unrelated and unmatched to the tone of the rest of the film, and seem jarringly out of place in a film that is really a three-character drama.

What was daring in 1971 doesn't seem as racy over thirty years later, and though Jackson and Finch deliver intensely watchable performances, I couldn't muster the interest to care about the story. I have a real level of respect for Schlesinger's overall body of work, and as a rule found a number of his films over the years to be extremely entertaining (Midnight Cowboy, Marathon Man, Billy Liar, The Falcon and The Snowman), but Sunday Bloody Sunday is about as dry as a piece of week-old English toast.

Rating for Style: C+
Rating for Substance: C+


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.66:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: MGM has issued Schlesinger's film in 1.66:1 nonanamorphic widescreen, and the transfer itself is really nothing to brag about, by any means. Aside from quite a bit of noticeable source print dirt and nicks, the color field has that wildly fluctuating, early 1970s faded look about it. Some sequences look more natural and warm than others, but more often than not the image quality looks majorly aged.

Not pretty at all.

Image Transfer Grade: C+


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access

Audio Transfer Review: The original English mono track has fared slightly better than the image transfer, but not by much. While there isn't any noticeable hiss, the dynamic range of the track is not very wide, and as a result voices tend to sound annoyingly harsh and flat, often making the British accents a challenge to discern.

Audio Transfer Grade: B-


Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 20 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, French, Spanish with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: The only extra here is the film's theatrical trailer, presented in nonanamorphic widescreen.

The disc is cut into 20 chapters, and incudes subtitles in English, French and Spanish.

Extras Grade: C


Final Comments

This may have been an eye-opening and thought-provoking film in 1971, but John Schlesinger's British drama has not retained any of its edge over time. Watching it today, I'm struck by how it plods along wearily and drearily, despite strong performances from reliable actors like Glenda Jackson and Peter Finch.


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