Archie Rice, an old-time British music hall performer sinking into final defeat, schemes to stay in show business.



(play), (screenplay) | 1 more credit »

On Disc

at Amazon

Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 1 win & 4 nominations. See more awards »
Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Dr. Petiot (1990)
Biography | Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

Based on the real life of Dr. Marcel Petiot: During world war II Petiot, an MD living in occupied Paris, promised to help wealthy Jewish people among his patients to flee occupied France ... See full summary »

Director: Christian de Chalonge
Stars: Michel Serrault, Pierre Romans, Bérangère Bonvoisin
Drama | Music | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

In Nazi-occupied Paris, a young accompanist named Sophie Vasseur gets a job with famed singer Irene Brice. As Irene's husband Charles, a businessman collaborating with the Nazis, wrestles ... See full summary »

Director: Claude Miller
Stars: Richard Bohringer, Elena Safonova, Romane Bohringer
The Overcoat (1952)
Comedy | Drama | Fantasy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

Based on Nikolai Gogol's story with the location changed from Russia to Italy and the time changed to the present (1952), the story is about a poor city-hall clerk (Renato Rascel) whose ... See full summary »

Director: Alberto Lattuada
Stars: Renato Rascel, Yvonne Sanson, Giulio Stival
Drama | Crime
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

A young man discovers his homosexuality and begins a relationship with a manipulative huster/petty criminal that he meets at a train station.

Director: Patrice Chéreau
Stars: Jean-Hugues Anglade, Vittorio Mezzogiorno, Roland Bertin
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

A disillusioned, angry university graduate comes to terms with his grudge against middle-class life and values.

Director: Tony Richardson
Stars: Richard Burton, Claire Bloom, Mary Ure
Don Giovanni (1979)
Drama | Music
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

Screen adapatation of Mozart's greatest opera. Don Giovanni, the infamous womanizer, makes one conquest after another until the ghost of Donna Anna's father, the Commendatore, (whom ... See full summary »

Director: Joseph Losey
Stars: Ruggero Raimondi, John Macurdy, Edda Moser
The Forsyte Saga (TV Mini-Series 1967)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.7/10 X  

The extended Forsyte family live a more than pleasant upper middle class life in Victorian and later Edwardian England. The two central characters are Soames Forsyte and his cousin Jolyon ... See full summary »

Stars: Eric Porter, Margaret Tyzack, Nyree Dawn Porter
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

In a vacation camp somewhere in the French country, 1960. Marc et Philippe are two of the counsellors. Marc is very virile, while Philippe is more reserved. A night, Marc surprises Philippe... See full summary »

Director: Claude Miller
Stars: Patrick Dewaere, Patrick Bouchitey, Christine Pascal
Carmen (1984)
Drama | Music
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

A film version of the famous Bizet opera, where a soldier (Don Jose) falls in love with a beautiful factory worker (Carmen), but she does not reciprocate his feelings.

Director: Francesco Rosi
Stars: Julia Migenes, Plácido Domingo, Ruggero Raimondi
Fool for Love (1985)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.1/10 X  

May is waiting for her boyfriend in a run-down American motel, when an old flame turns up and threatens to undermine her efforts and drag her back into the life that she was running away from. The situation soon turns complicated.

Director: Robert Altman
Stars: Sam Shepard, Kim Basinger, Harry Dean Stanton
Isadora (1968)
Certificate: M Biography | Drama | Music
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

A biography of the dancer Isadora Duncan, the 1920s dancer who forever changed people's ideas of ballet. Her nude, semi-nude, and pro-Soviet dance projects as well as her attitudes on free ... See full summary »

Director: Karel Reisz
Stars: Vanessa Redgrave, James Fox, Jason Robards
La demoiselle d'Avignon (TV Series 1972)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  
Stars: Marthe Keller, Louis Velle, Edmond Ardisson


Cast overview, first billed only:
Archie Rice (as Lawrence Olivier)
Brenda de Banzie ...
Daniel Massey ...
Mick Rice
Shirley Anne Field ...
Tina Lapford (as Shirley Ann Field)
Thora Hird ...
Ada Lapford
Miriam Karlin ...
Geoffrey Toone ...
Harold Hubbard
MacDonald Hobley ...
McDonald Hobley (as McDonald Hobley)
Anthony Oliver ...
Max Bacon ...
Charlie Klein
George Doonan ...
Eddie Trimmer


On the far side of middle age, Archie Rice lives in a British seaside resort with his father, retired successful vaudevillian Billy Rice, second wife Phoebe Rice, and doting son Frank Rice. Following in retired Billy's footsteps, Archie is a song-and-dance music hall headliner, with Frank supporting his dad as his shows' stage manager. The waning popularity of Archie's type of shows, a dying form of entertainment, is not helped by Archie's stale second rate material, which brings in small unappreciative crowds. Archie clings to his long held lifestyle, including heavy drinking and chronic infidelity, of which Phoebe is aware. What Archie has not told his offspring is that Phoebe was his mistress while he was still married to their now deceased mother. His want to be a music hall headliner is despite his financial problems, he an undischarged bankrupt who now signs Phoebe's name to everything. Phoebe wants them to escape this life to something more stable, such as the offer from her ... Written by Huggo

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


As the applause grew fainter ... As the spotlight grew dimmer ... His women were younger!




See all certifications »




Release Date:

2 December 1960 (Denmark)  »

Also Known As:

A komédiás  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


| (TCM print)

Sound Mix:

(Westrex Recording System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The film takes place in November 1956. See more »


Billy Rice: You were a pretty little thing. Not that looks are important - not even for a woman. You don't look at the mantelpiece when you poke the fire.
See more »


Version of The Entertainer (1976) See more »


I Don't Care Where They Bury My Body
Performed by Laurence Olivier
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

An extraordinary film
14 June 2006 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

It is amazing to me how many critics and reviewers of this film seem to have missed the subtleties in this story, and in Archie's character. Far from living in a world of futile fantasies, I think, Archie's character is much more accurately expressed by the line "The only thing I know how to do is to keep on keeping on." All available options (Canada, failure, escape, or perhaps, suicide) being unthinkable, what choice has he but to chase another hopeless dream of somehow, finally, nailing a successful show? Perhaps I identify with Archie more strongly than many viewers, having myself been at the helm of a sinking ship (a business.)

One unreasonably scathing critic (did he actually watch this film??) commented on Archie's daughter, Joan's, "blind love" for her father. I think it was not "blind love" at all, but a recognition of the (probably useless) courage Archie has to muster to continue to face each day -- a day likely to hold for him only more demoralizing failure and unceasing accusation and blame. And far from being totally selfish, as some commentators have written, Archie really seems to be the only person in the family able to look beyond the extremely small focus on their own interests: he is, in fact, the only person in the Rice tribe making a real effort, despite the pain, to find a path out of the mess to a place of security for them all.

Perhaps we have forgotten how dependent families were in that era on the earnings of "the breadwinner," and yet, reviewers seem to have been just as blind as many wives and families of that time to what a man often had to give up in order to be that breadwinner, including, as in Archie's case, any fantasies of greatness or even, finally, his last shreds of self-esteem. Was Archie aware of his utter failure? Oh, I think absolutely so. This is why his admission to his daughter that he was "dead" behind his eyes. All the brightness of hope or illusions of personal excellence have been hammered out of him on the iron-cold anvil of real-world failure. Even so, he found it in him to dredge up the understanding and compassion to alleviate his wife, Phoebe's drunken crash into despair and hostility; and shore up his father's nostalgic dreams. Though, alas, the latter, too, led to yet another "unforgiveable" tragedy (-- or was it?.

The most exquisite and poignant tragedy of it all is that maybe, just maybe, Archie might have pulled it off, but for the failure of his clueless family to understand him or the grim realities of his doomed profession. Forget metaphors of Imperial England, this tale has surely played itself out millions of times, whenever a new technology has made an old craft obsolete -- as when the printing press replaced scribes, or when electric lights eliminated the town's lamp lighter, or when automated projectors replaced skilled projectionists. Many of the movie's reviewers, in my opinion, are as blind to what is really going on here as is Archie's family. They assume that Archie's failures are the result of his negligence and selfishness, and that his dalliance with the beauty queen is a real romance (and threat to their security), when, in his eyes, it is just another, necessary, desperate and ultimately demeaning business deal. Joan alone, it seems, finally understands -- far too late to avert the inevitable end. Ultimately, every family member's myopic conception of Archie's reality leads them to take the reflexive steps that seal his doom.

Shakespeare would have been completely a home with this tragic tale, and I think it was not such a great leap away from Hamlet for Olivier.

The story is richly-detailed, unexpected and though-provoking. And Olivier is superb. A stunning performance from beginning to tragically inevitable end.

30 of 33 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
Worst Olivier Film Ever!! SusanJL
Who could play Archie Rice today? philslade
The caravan scene marga73
What's the Symphony on the Radio? ttcherrick
Tina bcstoneb444
44/250 Silver Screen Fiend mattleighkelly
Discuss The Entertainer (1960) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for: