Archie Rice, a pathetic music hall comic, plagued by debts, manipulates those around him in a defiant and selfish attempt to survive against improbable odds. He drinks, makes crude philosophical jokes about sex and politics and humiliates his lamenting, gin-soaked wife. Archie lures his father, Billy Rice, out of retirement for a benefit performance which will ultimately bring financial aid to Archie and his impractical investments. Written by
According to the April 21, 1958 edition of "Time Magazine", as an addendum to its cover story on Alec Guinness, in 1957, Laurence Olivier turned down a Hollywood offer of $250,000 for one motion picture. Instead of making the movie and pocketing the dosh (worth approximately $1.7 million in 2005 dollars), Olivier preferred to take on the role of Archie Rice in John Osborne's "The Entertainer" (a role written specifically for him) at the princely sum of £45 per week (worth $126 in 1957 dollars at the contemporaneous exchange rate, or $856 in 2005 dollars). See more »
As someone who lives only a couple of miles away from where this film was set, it makes me practically WEEP to see how busy and vibrant Morecambe used to be in the 50s/60s. OK, so the film is about how it's passed its heyday, but compared to how it is now - seeing the same scenery (it's hardly changed) - the Midland Hotel, The Winter Gardens (now a nightclub), it's hard not to get painful pangs of nostalgia.
This is ultimately a depressing film - Archie is one of those people who deals with tragedy by "blanking" it out with bad jokes. In the film he seduces the winner (2nd place) of a beauty contest - a woman old enough to be his daughter. Shortly after the film, Laurence Oliver married Joan Plowright who actually PLAYED his daughter in this film. Anyone for irony?
There are some wonderfully subtle takes on British "class" - I love Thora Hird (a long way from Praise Be and Stannah Stairlifts here) as the grasping mum of the Beauty-contest winner, while Brenda de Banzie is great as neurotic, looked-over, teary, nervy Phoebe - "I've got a new job in Woolworths, on the electrical counter. It's OK, but the girls are a bit common." Well Phoebe, you'll be pleased to know that the branch of Woolworths is still there...
17 of 21 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?