Staircase

Overview

Homosexuality is only incidentally important in this drama of dependence and intimacy between two aging hair stylists, and nothing shocking to staid and heterosexual sensibilities takes place in this movie, a star turn for Richard Burton and Rex Harrison. Whether the original play was as patently offensive to actual homosexuals as this movie is, is open to question. What is certain is that it grossly exaggerates every unpleasant "fag" stereotype in the books, However, the lead actors skillfully make art out of ...
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Overview

Homosexuality is only incidentally important in this drama of dependence and intimacy between two aging hair stylists, and nothing shocking to staid and heterosexual sensibilities takes place in this movie, a star turn for Richard Burton and Rex Harrison. Whether the original play was as patently offensive to actual homosexuals as this movie is, is open to question. What is certain is that it grossly exaggerates every unpleasant "fag" stereotype in the books, However, the lead actors skillfully make art out of these very same offensive tics, demonstrating the mysterious power of great performers to make a silk purse out of a sow's ear. In the story, Charlie Harrison and Harry Burton have been roommates, business partners and intimates for many long years, and their convoluted mutual dependency is every bit as complicated as that between any aged but incompatible couple who have grown used to one another over the years. Charlie thinks he can do without Harry, but Harry knows better and patiently bears the barbs and arrows that come his way. One of the nicer aspects of the stereotypical portrayal is that both men get to demonstrate some beautifully sharp, barbed wit.
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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Craig Butler
Director Stanley Donen initially agreed to direct the film version of Staircase on the assumption that Paul Scofield, star of the original stage version, would repeat his acclaimed performance on screen. He proceeded with misgivings after Scofield pulled out, and he was correct to worry. Although Rex Harrison and Richard Burton turn in respectable performances, neither one seems totally comfortable in his role, and there's often an element of self-conscious commentary from each about the role he is playing. Donen's direction is okay; he does display some lovely sensitive touches when allowed to be the screenplay. Although the dialogue often bristles with nicely-turned phrases, witty observations and well-aimed verbal thrusts-and-parries, the extremely dated portrayal of homosexuality actively works against a viewer's enjoyment. The material often calls upon the actors to traffic in unacceptable stereotypes, such as the mincing queen or the self-loathing homosexual. There's nothing that says that a character cannot exhibit some of these characteristics and still be real, but the filmmakers have not risen to that challenge in this instance. Still, if one can get beyond the stereotypes, one can find some insightful and interesting moments. Cathleen Nesbitt is also good in a minor role, and actor Dudley Moore's score is attractive. Burton would follow Staircase with Villain, in which he again portrayed a homosexual.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 7/23/2013
  • UPC: 024543878445
  • Original Release: 1969
  • Rating:

  • Source: Fox Mod
  • Time: 1:38:00
  • Format: DVD
  • Sales rank: 35,337

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Richard Burton Harry
Rex Harrison Charlie
Cathleen Nesbitt Harry's Mother
Beatrix Lehmann Charlie's Mother
Gordon Heath Postman
Stephen Lewis Jack
Jake Kavanagh Choirboy
Dermot Kelly Gravedigger
Avril Angers Miss Ricard
Neil Wilson Policeman
Shelagh Fraser Cub Mistress
Gwen Nelson Matron
Pat Heywood Nurse
Rogers and Starr Drag Singer
Technical Credits
Stanley Donen Director, Producer
Ron Berkeley Makeup
Philippe Brun Cinematographer
Christopher G. Challis Cinematographer
Alberto de Rossi Makeup
Jean-Louis Ducarme Sound/Sound Designer
Charles Dyer Screenwriter
Marc Grunebaum Asst. Director
Willy Holt Art Director
Richard Marden Editor
Dudley Moore Score Composer
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