The big box-office success of the British New Wave in the early '60s, no doubt because its hero's defiant watchword of 'Don't let the bastards grind you down' struck a responsive chord before everybody started never having had it so good. Much of the freshness survives in Finney's abrasive performance as the young Nottingham factory worker lashing blindly out at the bleak working class horizons to which he has been bred by parents 'dead from the neck up'. Trying to grab what life can offer with both hands without regard for consequences or for anybody else, he ends up with nothing but the final gesture of defiance of hurling a stone at the housing estate where he is about to settle down and live unhappily for ever after. But it all seems terribly glib now, at worst sailing close to parody, at best suffused with the faintly patronising sincerity of the Angry Young Man/New Left era.
Cast and crew
Shirley Anne Field