The Entertainer

“John Osborne himself assisted in the adaptation of his play ‘The Entertainer' (1960) for Tony Richardson's film, which was to be one of his best. Oswald Morris's vivid in-shooting camerawork thrust the rowdy seaside atmosphere of Morecombe slap on to the screen; the final exposure of the moral, spiritual and professional decline of the bogus entertainer, Archie Rice, occurs against the background of the noisy holidaymakers pushing past the placard proclaiming the Suez crisis in which Archie's only contact with real life, his son Mick, is to die and so break the last shreds of illusion which keep his father going. Richardson used large, oppressive close-ups and shock cutting to the point of technical arrogance, but he brought the audience relentlessly face to face with the failure of the sad characters of Archie and his debilitated, alcoholic wife, beautifully played by Brenda de Banzie. Even though artifice appears at odd moments in the harsh, uncompromising close-ups, Laurence Olivier's performance is an impressive tour de force, with his puffy face, glib gestures, flappy restlessness, his sad emptiness of expression in moments of repose.”

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