This movie rarely turns up on GLBT lists, and I have no idea why. Sunday, Bloody Sunday is a superb 1971 British film directed by John Schlesinger, one of my all-time favorite directors, who won an Oscar for Midnight Cowboy, one of my all-time favorite films. (Schlesinger, by the way, was an openly gay man* who lived with his beloved partner for over 30 years.)
With a stellar cast headed by fellow Oscar-winners Peter Finch and Glenda Jackson (an extraordinary actor-turned-Labour Party MP), Dame Peggy Ashcroft, and Murray Head (who sang the role of Judas in the original Jesus Christ, Superstar album), Sunday, Bloody Sunday subtly examines the dynamics, and demise, of a triangle involving a straight woman, young bisexual man, and older gay man. I can't call it a "love triangle," because the bisexual man is far too self-involved to have significant feelings for either of his occasional partners. But therein lies the movie's emotional impact.
Following is a synopsis I ganked from Wikipedia and edited.
A Jewish doctor, Daniel Hirsh (Finch) and a professional woman, Alex Greville (Jackson) are both romantically involved with aspiring artist Bob Elkin (Head). Not only are Hirsh and Greville aware that Elkin is seeing them both, they know of each other through mutual friends. Despite this, they are willing to put up with the situation rather than risk losing Elkin, who switches freely and quite inconsiderately between them. The rivals' grace, courage, and vulnerability, as well as their genuine love for Elkin, stand in striking contrast to the young man's shallow opportunism.
For Greville, the relationship is bound up with a growing disillusionment about her life, and lingering issues related to her failed marriage and uneasy childhood. For Hirsh, it is, in part, an escape from the repressed nature of his Jewish upbringing. Only when Elkin decides to leave the country do his lovers come face to face -- a meeting all the more touching because it's devoid of melodrama.
The sex scenes in this movie are lovely, as wistful as they are sensual, and the leitmotif provided by the trio "Soave sia il vento" from Mozart's Cosi fan tutte isn't just beautiful, it's heartwrenchingly appropriate.
God, I love this film. The acting is pitch-perfect, and the angst is underplayed yet keenly felt -- just the way I like it. You can pick up Sunday, Bloody Sunday dirt cheap, in either DVD or VHS format, at half.com.
* Here's a delightful anecdote about the rather portly director, also ganked from Wikipedia: "Sometime in the 1970s [Schlesinger] was in a New York bath house where the practice was for someone wanting a partner to leave the cubicle door open. This Schlesinger accordingly did, and lay monumentally on the table under his towel waiting for someone to pass by. A youth duly . . . ventured in, but seeing this mound of flesh laid out on the slab, recoiled, saying 'Oh, please. I couldn't. You've got to be kidding.' Schlesinger closed his eyes and said primly, 'A simple "No" will suffice'." Heh.