14 of the Best Kitchen Sink Dramas

Last updated on the 6 June 2024 by Evandrus

Kitchen sink dramas (aka British New Wave) are a genre of films and plays from the 1950s and 1960s that depict realistic stories of working-class life, focusing on domestic settings and exploring themes of social inequality, family dynamics and personal struggles.

 

Look Back in Anger (1959)

Look Back in Anger (1959)

 

The first of our kitchen sink dramas is “Look Back in Anger”. It follows Jimmy Porter, an intelligent but disillusioned young man living in post-war England. Through his tumultuous relationships with his wife Alison and friend Cliff, the film explores themes of class conflict, social alienation and the frustration of the working-class youth.

Top cast: Richard Burton, Mary Ure, Claire Bloom, Gary Raymond, Edith Evans, Glen Byam Shaw and Donald Pleasence.

 

Room at the Top (1959)

Room at the Top (1959)

 

The next of our kitchen sink dramas is “Room at the Top”, based on John Braine’s novel. It follows Joe Lampton, an ambitious young man from a working-class background who uses his charm and determination to climb the social ladder in post-war England. However, he soon discovers that success comes with its own consequences and moral dilemmas.

Top cast: Laurence Harvey, Simone Signoret, Heather Sears, Donald Wolfit, Hermione Baddeley, Donald Houston, Allan Cuthbertson and Raymond Huntley.

 

Saturday Night and
Sunday Morning (1960)

Saturday Night and Sunday Morning (1960)

 

“Saturday Night and Sunday Morning” follows Arthur Seaton, a young factory worker who rebels against the monotony of his working-class life through excessive drinking, casual affairs, and confrontations with authority. The film explores themes of class struggle, personal freedom and the consequences of one’s choices.

Top cast: Albert Finney, Shirley Anne Field, Rachel Roberts, Hylda Baker, Norman Rossington, Bryan Pringle and Robert Cawdron.

 

A Taste of Honey (1961)

A Taste of Honey (1961)

 

“A Taste of Honey” portrays the story of Jo, a teenage girl in working-class Manchester who experiences love, loss, and resilience amidst her tumultuous relationships with her neglectful mother and an enigmatic sailor. The film explores themes of race, class, sexuality and the pursuit of happiness.

Top cast: Rita Tushingham, Dora Bryan, Robert Stephens, Murray Melvin, Paul Danquah, David Oliver and Margo Cunningham.

 

The L-Shaped Room (1962)

The L-Shaped Room (1962)

 

The only of our kitchen sink dramas that features a French actress in the lead role, “The L-Shaped Room” with Leslie Caron. It revolves around Jane, an unmarried young woman who finds herself pregnant and moves into a rundown London boarding house. As she faces her pregnancy, relationships with other tenants, and societal judgments, the film explores themes of love, independence and personal growth in 1960s England.

Top cast: Leslie Caron, Tom Bell, Brock Peters, Cicely Courtneidge, Bernard Lee, Patricia Phoenix and Emlyn Williams.

 

The Loneliness of the Long
Distance Runner (1962)

The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner (1962)

 

“The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner” revolves around Colin Smith, a rebellious teenager from a working-class background who finds solace in long-distance running. When he gets sent to a reform school, he faces internal conflicts between conformity and individualism, ultimately leading to an unexpected decision with profound consequences.

Top cast: Tom Courtenay, Michael Redgrave, Avis Bunnage, Alec McCowen, James Bolam, Joe Robinson and Dervis Ward.

 

This Sporting Life (1963)

This Sporting Life (1963)

 

“This Sporting Life” depicts the story of Frank Machin, a rugged coal miner who becomes a professional rugby player. As he rises to fame, Frank grapples with personal and professional challenges that test his relationships, identity and pursuit of success in a harsh industrial landscape.

Top cast: Richard Harris, Rachel Roberts, Alan Badel, William Hartnell, Colin Blakely, Vanda Godsell and Anne Cunningham.

 

The Leather Boys (1964)

The Leather Boys (1964)

 

“The Leather Boys” portrays the story of Reggie and Dot, a young couple who get married but face challenges as their interests and desires begin to diverge. Set against the backdrop of the 1960s biker subculture, it explores themes of identity, love and societal expectations. Of all the kitchen sink dramas this one is considered by many to be an invaluable contribution to the legacy of queer cinema.

Top cast: Rita Tushingham, Colin Campbell, Dudley Sutton, Gladys Henson, Avice Landone, Betty Marsden and Michael Robbins.

 

Alfie (1966)

Alfie (1966)

 

“Alfie” is a comedy-drama film that follows the charming and womanising Alfie Elkins as he journeys his way through various relationships in swinging 1960s London. As Alfie grapples with love, commitment, and the consequences of his actions, the film offers a candid exploration of masculinity and societies expectations.

Top cast: Michael Caine, Shelley Winters, Millicent Martin, Julia Foster, Jane Asher, Shirley Anne Field and Vivien Merchant.

 

Georgy Girl (1966)

Georgy Girl (1966)

 

“Georgy Girl” is a romantic comedy-drama that revolves around Georgy, an unconventional and plain-looking young woman who finds herself torn between her promiscuous roommate’s lover and the advances of an older man, as she navigates love, self-discovery and societies expectations in swinging 1960s London.

Top cast: Lynn Redgrave, James Mason, Alan Bates, Charlotte Rampling, Bill Owen, Clare Kelly, Denise Coffey and Peggy Thorpe-Bates.

 

The Family Way (1966)

The Family Way (1966)

 

“The Family Way” is a comedy-drama that follows newlyweds Jenny and Arthur, struggling with their awkward and sexless marriage while living with Arthur’s overbearing parents, as they traverse societal pressures, misunderstandings and unexpected events that test their relationship and highlight generational differences in post-war England.

Top cast: Hayley Mills, Hywel Bennett, John Mills, Marjorie Rhodes, Avril Angers, Murray Head, Barry Foster and Wilfrid Hyde-White.

Poor Cow (1967)

Poor Cow (1967)

 

“Poor Cow” (1967) is a drama that revolves around Joy, a young working-class woman who faces life’s challenges and relationships in 1960s London. From her marriage to an abusive criminal to her affair with a compassionate thief, the film delves into themes of resilience, love and survival amidst adversity.

Top cast: Carol White, Terence Stamp, John Bindon, Queenie Watts, Kate Williams, Bill Dean and Michael Bangerter.

 

Up the Junction (1968)

Up the Junction (1968)

 

“Up the Junction” is a kitchen sink dramas that follows Polly, a young woman from an affluent background who leaves her privileged life behind to experience working-class existence in Battersea, London, where she faces love, loss, and the harsh realities of poverty and social inequality.

Top cast: Suzy Kendall, Dennis Waterman, Maureen Lipman, Adrienne Posta, Michael Gothard, Liz Fraser, Susan George and Alfie Bass.

 

Spring and Port Wine (1970)

Spring and Port Wine (1970) kitchen sink dramas

 

The last of our kitchen sink dramas is “Spring and Port Wine” is a family drama that follows the Crompton family, led by strict patriarch Rafe, as they face generational conflicts and secrets amidst their working-class life in Bolton. When an unexpected event shakes their routine, they are forced to confront their own desires and redefine familial bonds.

Top cast: James Mason, Diana Coupland, Hannah Gordon, Susan George, Rodney Bewes, Len Jones, Keith Buckley and Avril Elgar.

 

Kitchen Sink Dramas @Wikipedia

 

 

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