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Graham Weir is an alcoholic schoolteacher whose criminal record for refusing to fight during the Second World War has prevented him from progressing further in his teaching career. He is looked upon with disdain by his headmaster, his pupils and even his wife. The one person who appreciates his shyness and warmth is one of his pupils, Shirley Taylor. After Weir offers to give her free private tuition, the pupil slowly falls in love with her teacher. She treats this as an obsession that can never be fulfilled but in her frustration and naivety, she reveals her true feelings for Weir and offers to sleep with him. Weir gently refuses and intends to forget about the episode but a new problem surfaces in his life when Taylor accuses him of indecent assault. Written by
David Claydon <email@example.com>
Laurence Olivier, that most noble of actors, could play a downtrodden loser better than anyone. Here, in the 1962 film "Term of Trial," he's a good, idealistic man, who teaches school to mostly ingrates. He believes in his work, and he's a man of principle - he was a conscientious objector in World War II and went to prison for it. Though he's viewed as a weakling by his wife, in fact, by going against the grain, he shows a great deal of personal courage. It's not appreciated, especially by his slatternly wife (Simone Signoret).
In this film, a young girl (Sarah Miles) whom he's tutoring develops a bad crush on him. When he rejects her, she accuses him of molesting her and his kindnesses to her - because she was one student who seemed to really care about learning - are used against him.
This is a marvelously acted film, providing the debuts for the lovely Sarah Miles, as well as for Terence Stamp as Mitchell, a young hoodlum whom Miles takes up with as revenge against Olivier. As the unhappy wife, Signoret is wonderful, and Hugh Griffith turns in a firecracker of a performance as Olivier's attorney.
Olivier is often criticized for selling out because he needed money; he's also criticized for being hammy; and he's criticized for being the great Laurence Olivier by people who have no idea of his contribution to acting. He did this film because he needed money, but it's an excellent role nonetheless, and he gives a magnificent performance. For people who think he's a big ham, I urge them to see this film, "Sister Carrie," and "The Entertainer," where he plays a bad performer. It's a real tour de force.
Gritty, and worth seeing.
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