Butley

Overview

The American Film Theatre has made movies of a number of significant theatrical performances, including Laurence Olivier's Othello. Another of these filmed theatricals is Simon Gray's Butley, which was brought to the screen by playwright Harold Pinter, and which features an astonishing performance by Alan Bates. The story focuses on one very bad day in the life of Butley (Bates), a feisty, sharp-tongued, lazy and pathetic professor of English. His professional ascendancy is challenged by a slick, accomplished ...
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Overview

The American Film Theatre has made movies of a number of significant theatrical performances, including Laurence Olivier's Othello. Another of these filmed theatricals is Simon Gray's Butley, which was brought to the screen by playwright Harold Pinter, and which features an astonishing performance by Alan Bates. The story focuses on one very bad day in the life of Butley (Bates), a feisty, sharp-tongued, lazy and pathetic professor of English. His professional ascendancy is challenged by a slick, accomplished woman many years his junior; his ex-wife gives him conniptions when she announces her remarriage to someone he cannot bear; and his male lover of several years chooses this time to announce that he is leaving him for a sweeter-tempered but very ordinary man of the sort Butley despises. Bleak though this sounds, Butley's unconquerable wit and biting repartee transform this otherwise tragic tale into something of a celebration of survival.
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Special Features

Theatrical trailer; "Simon Gray and Butley," an essay by Michael Feingold, Chief Theatre Critic, The Village Voice; The AFT Cinebill for Butley; Stills gallery; An interview with Edie Landau: Executive in Charge, the American Film Theatre; Ely Landau: In Front of the Camera - AFT promotional reel (1974); The American Film Theatre trailer gallery - includes a complete list of AFT films; The American Film Theatre Scrapbook; Enhanced for 16x9 TVs
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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Craig Butler
Butley is not a satisfying film experience, but it is valuable for capturing the electric and captivating performance of star Alan Bates in the title role. Bates gives a tour de force performance, but one in which the actor is at all times serving the character and the needs of the material rather than simply using a flashy part to show off his considerable range and skill. Bates is firmly onscreen throughout and is called upon to create a presence that can hold the entire film together; to make things more difficult, he is given a not very likeable character, self-centered and given to barrages of cruel (if terribly witty and amusing) insults. That Bates makes the audience interested in the character, and even care for him to a sufficient extent, without making Butley sympathetic, is an incredible achievement. A bold, edgy, at times scary performance, it makes the film worth watching, despite flaws such as pedestrian direction that does not do enough to disguise the film's stage origins, an over-extended length, and a cast of characters that often compete with each other for unpleasantness. The supporting cast is excellent, but even as accomplished an actress as Jessica Tandy must take a back seat to Bates' astonishing performance.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 4/1/2003
  • UPC: 738329027827
  • Original Release: 1974
  • Rating:

  • Source: Kino Video
  • Aspect Ratio: Theatre Wide-Screen (1.85.1)
  • Presentation: Wide Screen
  • Language: English
  • Time: 2:09:00
  • Format: DVD
  • Sales rank: 51,006

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Alan Bates Ben Butley
Jessica Tandy Edna Shaft
Richard O'Callaghan Joey Keyston
Susan Engel Anne Butley
Michael Byrne Reg Nuttall
Georgina Hale Miss Heasman
Cohn Haigh Male Student
Lindsay Ingram Female Student
Patti Love Female Student
Belinda Low Female Student
Oliver Maguire Train Passenger
Simon Rouse Gardner
John Savident James
Susan Wooldridge Female Student
Technical Credits
Harold Pinter Director
Malcolm Cooke Editor
Carmen Dillon Art Director
Gerry Fisher Cinematographer
Simon Gray Screenwriter
Ely Landau Producer
Otto Plaschkes Producer
Ivan Sharrock Sound/Sound Designer
Ted Sturgis Asst. Director
Simon Ward Screenwriter
Henry T. Weinstein Producer
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Scene Index

Side #1 --
1. Opening Titles [4:30]
2. Office Mates [7:55]
3. "Straight Abuse" [7:47]
4. "You're Looking Furtive" [12:47]
5. A Chat With Edna [7:41]
6. "This Hash My Life" [9:37]
7. "Do You Want Us Back" [10:47]
8. "A Frozen Soul" [7:04]
9. Joey's Secret [7:45]
10. "What About Edna?" [7:03]
11. A Drink With Reg [20:07]
12. "A Fraction of a Faker" [8:34]
13. A Rehearsed Goodbye [8:47]
14. "Breaking New Ground" [6:55]
15. End Credits [1:52]
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Menu

Side #1 --
   Play
   Scenes
   Special Features
      Butley Theatrical Trailer
      "Simon Gray and Butley" by Michael Feingold, Chief Theatre Critic, The Village Voice
      The AFT Cinebill for Butley
         Harold Pinter, Director
         Erich Segal: The Prof as Protagonist
      Butley Stills Gallery
      An Interview With Edie Landau, Executive in Charge, the American Film Theatre (26 Min)
         Play Interview
      Ely Landau: In Front of the Camera - AFT Promotional Reed, 1974 (6 Min)
      Trailer Gallery - Includes a Complete List of AFT Films
         Butley: Play
         A Delicate Balance: Play
         The Homecoming: Play
         The Iceman Cometh: Play
         Lost in the Stars: Play
         Luther: Play
         Rhinoceros: Play
         Galileo: Play
         Jacques Brel Is Alive and Well and Living in Paris: Play
         The Maids: Play
         The Man in the Glass Booth: Play
         Play All
      The American Film Theatre Scrapbook - A Collection of Articles and Essays
         A Letter From Ely Landau - Written in 1973, to Potential AFT Subscribers
         "Ely Landau Presents the American Film Theatre," an Article by Larry Gross
         An Interview With Ely Landau
         Very Nice for Us All by Edward Albee
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