Simmering tensions and sexual conflict abound in John Mortimer’s screen adaptation of his own stage play, centred around an office affair.
“A fascinating and emotional little film that slipped into UK theatres during the early days of the gritty kitchen sink realist days of British cinema.”
Nathaniel Thompson, Mondo Digital, 2011
Robert Stephens and Shirley Anne Field turn in extraordinary performances as a married company executive and a young designer engaged in inventive, if frustrated, attempts to consummate their office romance. When they eventually concoct an hour alone in a hotel room, deceit invades their reality and begins to corrode their relationship.
Lunch Hour was shot in just four weeks, with writer John Mortimer on set adding scenes and changing dialogue almost daily. The result was a truly visual adaptation of the original radio play, with back stories and a number of exterior scenes added – although the climactic hotel encounter remains suitably shuttered and claustrophobic. The film never achieved a major release, perhaps because of its short length or because its absurdist influences invited classification alongside European art-house cinema.
Writer John Mortimer continued to investigate the extremes of human psychology in Bunny Lake is Missing (1965) and the dynamics of intimacy in the Oscar-nominated John and Mary (1969).
Cast & credits
- Directed by James Hill
- Assistant Director Jan Darnley-Smith
- [Assistant Director (2nd)] Eddie Dorian
- Continuity Yvonne Richards
- an Eyeline film Eyeline Films
- Presents Bryanston Films
- Executive Producer Alfred Shaughnessy
- Produced by John Mortimer
- Produced by Harold Orton
- Production Manager Teresa Bolland
- [Production Runner] Geoff Berrie
- Made at Marylebone Studios
- Director of Photography Wolfgang Suschitzky
- Camera Operator Ronnie Maasz
- [Focus Puller] Tony Spratling
- [Clapper Loader] Roy Bailey
- [Grip] Bill Dunlop
- Art Direction by Jack Stevens
- Wardrobe June Kirby