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Entertainer
     

The Entertainer

Director: Tony Richardson,

Cast: Laurence Olivier, Brenda de Banzie, Joan Plowright

 

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Tony Richardson's The Entertainer passed through a lot of distributors' hands, including The Samuel Goldwyn Company, before ending up in the possession of MGM/UA. It was out on laserdisc during the final years of that format's viability, and has been issued on DVD as part of MGM's low-priced "Vintage Classics" series. The transfer on this title is about as good

Overview

Tony Richardson's The Entertainer passed through a lot of distributors' hands, including The Samuel Goldwyn Company, before ending up in the possession of MGM/UA. It was out on laserdisc during the final years of that format's viability, and has been issued on DVD as part of MGM's low-priced "Vintage Classics" series. The transfer on this title is about as good as we're ever likely to see. Oswald Morris's black-and-white cinematography looks very good, with a vast amount of detail in every frame; the fabric in the mens' suits even shimmers a bit in the medium shots. The master materials have obviously been well preserved -- better, in fact, than those on Richardson's three-year newer (and much more famous) Tom Jones -- and this makes it very easy to appreciate the mobility of Richardson's camera, among other of the movie's attributes. When Richardson allows his best instincts as a filmmaker to overcome his obvious reverence for the play and the star, he gives us an engrossing and stimulating movie, with some splendid realistic sequences, particularly the exteriors of the seedy holiday resort and the backstage/on-stage interaction -- the final scene, in which Joan Plowright and Laurence Olivier are standing in darkness, only to have the curtain rise on the empty theater, is a visually stunning capper to the picture. Lsrge sections of the movie, alas, looks and feels like a filmed play, especially in the interior sequences beginning 15 minutes into the picture -- those scenes seem confining, unnatural and claustrophobic, and break up the movie's flow. It's a problem made worse by the quality of the disc, which brings out every subtle detail, and is strongly reminiscent of the difficulty that this reviewer discovered to be inherent in watching the restored version of John Ford's The Searchers -- the studio-filmed segments in that movie (which look and sound like they're taking place in Macy's window), when placed adjacent to the brilliant location shots, look incredibly false, and only work at all because of the actors' consistent performances; the problem in The Entertainer is worse because the acting and directing style change along with the look of the movie in those close, set-bound scenes derived directly from the play. On the positive side, the letterboxed image, at 1.66-to-1, frames the action perfectly, tightly concentrating the viewer's eye on the characters' interactions -- the proportions show just how precisely and carefully Richardson devised his shots throughout the movie. The disc opens automatically on a very simple multi-layer menu that offers 16 chapters, adequate for a 104 minute movie. There are French and Spanish subtitle options, but no trailer or other bonus materials.

Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide
Bitter, grey, and offering no chance of redemption for its characters, The Entertainer was a dour reflection of the angry, cynical sentiments that defined post-war Britain. Co-written and directed by John Osborne and Tony Richardson, two of the most eloquent Angry Young Men of the era, it was a repudiation of earlier films that portrayed entertainers and their industry as one long parade of sunshine and good will. Instead of a parade, The Entertainer was a funeral, and inherent in the film's depiction of dwindling glory was an indictment of Britain's dying prestige. The film also marked a turning point for Laurence Olivier, whose performance as Archie Rice was an effective departure from the romantic roles of his youth. His portrayal was thoroughly devastating: Rice's self-delusion, hypocrisy, misanthropy, and frank lack of talent make his titular label a cruel joke. In Olivier's brilliant performance, we see a mirror for the desperate arrogance and misplaced confidence of a wounded society. Through their unforgiving portrait of Rice and his surroundings, Osborne and Richardson leveled an attack at this society, picking at its wounds with savage accuracy. The Entertainer was one of their most successful collaborations, and it remains an accusatory reminder of a time that many would just as soon forget.

Product Details

Release Date:
06/19/2001
UPC:
0027616862709
Original Release:
1960
Rating:
NR
Source:
Mgm (Video & Dvd)
Region Code:
1
Presentation:
[B&W, Wide Screen]
Sound:
[Dolby Digital, monaural]
Time:
1:44:00

Special Features

English: mono; French & Spanish language subtitles

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Laurence Olivier Archie Rice
Brenda de Banzie Phoebe Rice
Joan Plowright Jean Rice
Roger Livesey Billy Rice
Alan Bates Frank Rice
Albert Finney Mick Rice
Daniel Massey Graham
Miriam Karlin Soubrette
Shirley Ann Field Tina Lapford
Thora Hird Ada Lapford
Macdonald Hobley Film Star
Charles Gray Columnist
Geoffrey Toone Harold Hubbard
Gilbert Davis Brother Bill
Anthony Oliver Interviewer
Roger Manvell Actor
James Culliford Cobber Carson
Max Bacon Charlie Klein
George Doonan Eddie Trimmer

Technical Credits
Tony Richardson Director
John Addison Score Composer
Ralph W. Brinton Art Director
Barbara Gillett Costumes/Costume Designer
Peter Handford Sound/Sound Designer
Nigel Kneale Screenwriter
Ted Marshall Art Director
Oswald Morris Cinematographer
Alan Osbigton Editor
John Osborne Screenwriter
Harry Saltzman Producer
Tony Sforzini Makeup

Scene Index

Side #1 --
0. Scene Selection
1. Intro/Main Title [5:50]
2. War Time [6:15]
3. Curtain Raiser [5:41]
4. Post-Show Depression [7:18]
5. Liquid Courage [7:35]
6. Archie's New Girl [11:54]
7. Show Business Deal [2:38]
8. Old Man And The Sea [4:42]
9. A Family Matter [:41]
10. "A Girl...Your Age" [9:31]
11. Show Stopper [3:38]
12. "Why Should I Care?" [9:54]
13. Remembering Rice [11:18]
14. "Amongst The Girls" [5:53]
15. Farewell Performance [4:54]
16. End Credits [5:22]

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