Karel Reisz was born in 1926 in Czechoslovakia. He came to England in 1938 as a Jewish refugee, one of the six hundred children rescued by Sir Nicholas Winton. After attending Leighton Park School, he joined the Royal Air Force towards the end of the war. Both his parents died at Auschwitz. Following his war service, he read Natural Sciences at Emmanuel College, Cambridge, and began to write for film journals, including Sight and Sound. He co-founded Sequence with Lindsay Anderson and Gavin Lambert in 1947.
Reisz was a founder member of the Free Cinema documentary film movement. His first short film, Momma Don’t Allow (1955), co-directed with Tony Richardson, was included in the first Free Cinema programme shown at the National Film Theatre in February 1956.
His first feature film Saturday Night and Sunday Morning (1960) was based on the realist novel by Alan Sillitoe, and used many of the same techniques as his earlier documentaries. It won several BAFTA awards including the… read more
I know it's been said by many many times but they made movies in the US they won't make now...gritty little character pieces with no sugar that I eat up. Better on 2nd viewing, this has Toback all over it though he only wrote it. Probably Cann's best performance...he really nails the charm the character needs and not just the impulse and desperation because this guy couldn't last as long as he does without it.
Reisz's bravura opening sequence establishes the narrow confines to which his gambler's concerns have been reduced. From there we're shown a world Axel only barely inhabits, the world of external obligations and others' intentions. Grimly obsessed with imposing his will upon reality -- including his own willful destruction -- Axel both depends upon and reacts against the safe-harbor/prison of the maternal relation.