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Kind of Loving, A (1962)


Main image of Kind of Loving, A (1962)
Directed byJohn Schlesinger
Production CompanyVic Films (London)
Production CompanyWaterhall Productions
Adapted from the novel byStan Barstow
Produced byJoseph Janni
Screenplay byWillis Hall
Screenplay byKeith Waterhouse
Director of PhotographyDenys Coop
Music Composed and Conducted byRon Grainer

Cast: Ruth Porcher ([Mrs Parker]); Alan Bates (Victor 'Vic' Arthur Brown); June Ritchie (Ingrid Rothwell); Thora Hird (Mrs Rothwell); Bert Palmer (Mr Brown)

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Vic Brown, a draughtsman in a Northern Industrial town, starts courting a typist, Ingrid. He is sexually attracted to Ingrid but finds her dull. He gets Ingrid pregnant and has to marry her. Married life living with Ingrid's mother proves intolerable and when Ingrid loses the baby, Vic walks out. He is faced with a choice between his desires and his responsibilities.

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John Schlesinger's first feature film was an adaptation of Stan Barstow's best selling novel. The plot of A Kind of Loving (1962) may lead one to suppose that it is almost a parody of a 'new wave' film, with its Northern setting, pregnant girls obsessed with television and brass band concerts, but it is, in fact, a very subtle piece of work, exploring the way individuals have to negotiate what they want through a series of compromises and difficult choices. The story of Vic and Ingrid's relationship offers a complex view of love and sex in a time of change.

It is a tribute to Schlesinger's skill with actors and with narrative that we retain an interest in their story, even though neither of the couple is sympathetic. Vic may be intelligent, but he is also a self-regarding, misogynistic whiner who lacks empathy, even when Ingrid loses her baby. Ingrid is petty and dim, unable to think beyond the next episode of 'Call Dr. Martin' or the snob value of her furniture. Yet both are caught up in a wider problem where unwanted pregnancies occur and lead to loveless marriages.

There are tensions between desire, responsibility and social acceptance that are not easily resolved. While the moral climate it depicts has largely changed, A Kind of Loving remains an interesting and rewarding film, which dares to accept that there are not necessarily any easy answers to the questions it poses.

The film is also interesting as an illustration of newfound working class affluence and aspirations. It is revealing about the tiny gradations within the English class system: Ingrid and her mum look down on Vic's family for his father's manual work and 'old-fashioned' pursuits, like the brass band. Their 'modern' appliances and entertainments, stressing individual achievement over collective struggle are, in their minds, superior. Vic sees a way out of small town life through education and career, only to see hopes dashed through social expectation and moral responsibilities.

Phil Wickham

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Video Clips
1. Brotherly advice (1:33)
2. Vic and Ingrid (3:05)
3. The mother-in-law (2:28)
Production stills
Publicity materials
Monthly Film Bulletin review
Billy Liar (1963)
L-Shaped Room, The (1962)
Room at the Top (1958)
This Sporting Life (1963)
Bates, Alan (1934-2003)
Bolam, James (1938-)
Grainer, Ron (1924-1981)
Hird, Thora (1911-2003)
Janni, Joseph (1916-1994)
Schlesinger, John (1926-2003)
Anglo-Amalgamated Productions
British New Wave
Social Realism
The Golden Bear