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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
The entertainer is a great movie, but not easy to watch.
The underlying theme of this movie is the end of the British empire, played out in allegory with the end of a not very talented "entertainer". The poet John Mansfield a few decades before this movie was made gave Britons an inkling of what was coming. Two wars and a softness grown out of a century of milking its colonies finally had to come to end. This film is not what the average movie viewer wants, much less understands when the creators of this project reveal to the audience what lies ahead. When Archie is yanked off the stage, it is the symbolic end of Great Britan as a great power. The Suez war and Archies's son as a relic of Britan's once dominant power are a backdrop to political and military events when this film was in production. The Suez war was not backed by the US. The British learned that the day was over when it could exert influence let alone dominant military actions without US backing. Catch the line in the beginning of the film when Archie's daughter is being asked to leave" a dying country". That line establishes the events to follow, for Archie and England.
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