Albert Finney has been nominated for five Academy Awards over the course of his career, but hasn’t attended a single ceremony. “Not my cup of tea. You are not allowed to smoke or drink during the Oscars—which can go on for six hours—and that wouldn’t appeal to me in the slightest.” he explained. The Salford-born actor has had a career to be envied, transitioning from stage to screen with roles in everything from British counter-culture classics, to Hollywood musicals — and even a Bond film. It’s a career with longevity too, with hits spanning a vast swathe of film history: Finney starred opposite Audrey Hepburn in Stanley Donen’s Two For the Road (1967) and Julia Roberts in Steven Soderbergh’s Erin Brockovich (2000).
With their new film season titled Albert Finney: Son of Salford, HOME pay tribute to one of the regions finest exports. The season showcases no fewer than nine of Finney’s most acclaimed films, starting with one of the first, in the form of British New Wave landmark, Saturday Night and Sunday Morning (1960). Directed by Karel Reisz, and produced at the iconic studio Woodfall Films, Finney stars as a womanising, working class machinist in a role that would help launch him to stardom. The actor would sustain a remarkable career partly due to his notorious pickiness when it came to choosing parts — though turning down Peter O’Toole’s role in Lawrence of Arabia may not have been the wisest career move.
Nevertheless, Finney consistently chose high calibre collaborators, as he showed himself capable of playing anything from verbose scene-stealers to seething antiheroes. As well as Saturday Night and Sunday Morning, other early-career highlights screening at HOME include Reisz’s Night Must Fall (1964) in which Finney plays a murderous psychopath and Tony Richardson’s bawdy comedy, Tom Jones (1963). Film fans will want to investigate the pair of films the actor appeared in for legendary Hollywood director John Huston: Broadway adaptation Annie and Mexico-set, Under the Volcano in which Finney stars as an alcoholic ambassador at the beginnings of World War II. A 35mm screening of horror thriller Wolfen (1981) should also be a priority.
The benefits of this kind of season is that cinemagoers can immerse themselves in the subject. For those looking to get their bearings, HOME provide a helpful roadmap in the form of their One Hour Intro: Albert Finney.