Albert Finney came to the movies from the theatre, where he was especially successful in the plays of William Shakespeare. He became a leading figure of the young Free Cinema. His film debut was in 1960 with The Entertainer (1960) by Tony Richardson, who had also directed him in theatre plays several times before. His typical roles when he was young were projects like Arthur Seaton in Saturday Night and Sunday Morning (1960).
He became established as one of the most significant and versatile British actors, with roles ranging from Ebenezer Scrooge in the musical version of Scrooge (1970) to Hercule Poirot in Murder on the Orient Express (1974) and Winston Churchill in the acclaimed television movie The Gathering Storm (2002). His final credit was in the James Bond film Skyfall (2012). One of the most significant British film actors of his time, Finney was one of the select group of British actors to earn a profile in the American film guide "Leonard Maltin's Movie Encyclopedia".