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Shot on location on the boardwalk carnivals and holiday camps of the British seaside, the shabby show-biz world is beautifully photographed but never quite shakes off its origins on the stage. It's the vivid performances that drive the drama: Joan Plowright (who married Olivier in 1961) as his pragmatic daughter; Alan Bates and Albert Finney (making their film debuts) as his sons, a next-generation show-biz hustler and a soldier shipped off to the Suez, respectively; and Brenda de Banzie as Archie's long-suffering wife. "You've been a good audience. Let me know where you're playing tomorrow and I'll come see you." --Sean Axmaker
Top Customer Reviews
Why should I let it touch me?
Why shouldn't I sit down and try to let it pass over me.
Why should they stare, why should I let it get me...
What's the use of despair if they call you a square?
You're a long time dead like my old pal Fred
So why oh why should I
Bother to care?"
Archie Rice sings this depressing and cynical second-rate song as part of his depressingly bad music hall routine in The Entertainer, a depressing but skillfully acted movie. Archie Rice (Lawrence Olivier) is a third-rate, aging vaudeville entertainer, headlining his own show in the run-down English seaside resort of Morecomb. He's just about at the end of his string, playing to half-empty, bored audiences, running up debt, and desperate to stay in the business. He has a wife, Phoebe (Brenda De Banzie) who loves him and drinks too much, a daughter, Jean (Joan Plowright), who also loves him but has no illusions about him, two sons, Mick (Albert Finney), who joined the Army and is being shipped off to Suez, and Frank (Alan Bates), who works for his father in the music hall, and his own father, Billy Rice (Roger Livesey), once a headliner but now aging and retired. In the course of the movie Archie one way or another uses them, fails them or both.
The Entertainer is grim stuff. It's redeemed, I think, by two elements. First, it represents the reaction in the Fifties by British playwrights such as John Osborne to the polished, upper-class and unrealistic theater in Britain following WWII. Playwrights such as Christopher Fry and Terrence Rattigan produced hugely popular works that many thought were out of touch with reality.Read more ›
This movie makes me uncomfortable and I really don't like to watch it, but that cannot make me deny that it is one of Olivier's greatest jobs. I think part of the way he can convey this male menopause pathos derived from his own life at the time, the way Gable's own tragedies inform "Homecoming". At this point, yes, Olivier had won an Oscar and gained a knighthood, but his personal life was a shambles. He was married to Vivien Leigh who was sickly and suffering from mental illness. He once described it to Lauren Bacall in this fashion: The first ten years were heaven, the last hell. The strain was beginning to show in Larry, and that's what is communicated in his depiction of Archie Rice, the entertainer who hasn't got any joy in his own life. Archie's made a mess of things: he's a bankrupt, he's got a wife who's stupid and tiresome, he's got to play in these tawdry seaside resorts. He manages to seduce a naive young girl, and is hoping perhaps to shake off both the wife and this bad luck that's been plaguing him, but everything always falls through. Life can't help being lousy, I guess is the message of "The Entertainer", and does one heck of a job showing us the seamy side of a two-bit talent's life.
Of course, the great irony is that in real life, Olivier began an affair with the actress playing his daughter, Joan Plowright. What might have been just another example of life imitating art--of Olivier playing out the seducer element of "The Entertainer"--actually worked out to his benefit.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This is a superb film. However, the DVD is a disaster -- terrible picture resolution and difficult sound. I don't know why this DVD was put on the market.Published 6 months ago by robert j. bresler
so good, esp. if you like the black & white kitchen sink English movies - Olivier is a gas in this!Published 11 months ago by M. Leahy
The movie may be great but the quality of the DVD was appalling. It looked like it had been copied off an old pirated VHS. Probably the worst I have ever seen. Read morePublished 13 months ago by Stephen Brooks
Could barely watch the movie because of poor reproduction - seemed to have been shot mostly in the dark, which of course wasn't so. Read more
interesting portrait of a loser oliver is very good and so is joan plowright another brittish character study well done every scene works its an extremely good movie recommended... Read morePublished 21 months ago by Amazon Customer
Awesome classic throwback. Got this for my dad to celebrate his coming home from rehab, and it was a great family gathering. Just like old times (minus the whiskey)!! Awesome!!Published on June 11, 2014 by SYLVIA TRAINER
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