Albert Finney, the ‘Kitchen Sink Coriolanus’ passes aged 82.

Albert Finney (1936-2019), one of the greatest actors of British cinema, has passed away aged just 82. Finney was diagnosed with kidney cancer back in 2011 and passed away after suffering from a chest infection at the Royal Marsden on Thursday surrounded by friends and family.

Laurence Olivier proclaimed,

Albert Finney is the greatest actor of his generation.

Not bad considering his generation included Alan Bates, Tom Courtenay, Richard Harris and Peter O’Toole all of whom supremely talented and supremely angry young men.

Winner of a Golden Globe, Emmy and Screen Actors Guild Awards, 5 times Oscar nominee and 13 times BAFTA nominee, Albert Finney’s screen roles included Saturday Night and Sunday Morning, Tom Jones, Two For The Road,  Charlie Bubbles, The Duelists, The DresserScrooge, Big Fish, Erin Brockovich and Miller’s Crossing. Recently he has appeared in films such as Skyfall and The Bourne Legacy. He took the lead in both Dennis Potter’s 1996 BAFTA nominated Cold Lazarus and Karaoke for TV, for which he was nominated for a BAFTA in 1996.

For many his onscreen performance as Arthur Seaton in the 1960 ‘kitchen sink drama’ Saturday Night, Sunday Morning remains one of his best and one of British New Wave Cinema’s most groundbreakingly honest films.  The Alan Sillitoe scripted film told the tale of many a young man up and down the land and saw Finney’s star shine as bright as any star in the 1960s.

The film follows the story of a rebellious young man, living for the weekend whilst working a monotonous job as a machinist in the Raleigh factory in Nottingham, gets himself mixed up in two relationships one of which ‘falls pregnant’. Finney’s unique performance brimming with attitude and the rarity of a northern accent changed British cinema forever. The pathos, the angst and the grit are there for all to see.

In 1999, the British Film Institute named Saturday Night and Sunday Morning the 14th greatest British film of all time on their Top 100 British films list.

Biographer Quentin Falk wrote in Albert Finney In Character;

At the turn of the Sixties, Finney was the screen’s incarnation of the new working-class hero. In the theatre, he was barely 20 when he was hailed as the ‘new Olivier.’ Yet instead of pursuing either mantle, he became a millionaire and made love to beautiful women on several continents.

Finney’s frank and self-deprecating demeanour juxtaposed the film star lifestyle that had befallen him. His heart was to always return to the theatre.

Albert Finney on the profession he loved and loathed in equal measures;

I don’t think that we necessarily lie. I mean, we make our living by pretending that we’re someone else. I don’t tell tall tales. I always tell the truth.

One of Finney’s finest performances in later years was his critically acclaimed portrayal Sir Winston Churchill in The Gathering Storm (2002) for which he was nominated for both an Emmy and a BAFTA.

RIP Mr Finney, the ‘King of the Kitchen Sink’.

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