Staircase (1969) Poster

(1969)

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It is a joy to watch!
NeverLift24 March 2000
I don't know what movie the other reviewers were watching, or why they are so bitter. I agree completely with the contemporaneous reviews, which praised the movie highly. Two fine actors spend the entire movie, out of their normal characters, showing off to each other and producing a gem as a result. The contrast between Burton's prissy old woman and Harrison's aging swish -- that so embarrassed the Burton character -- was wonderfully portrayed. Yet they managed to demonstrate that querulous yet enduring relationship that often results between an aging couple that experience each other's foibles, constantly express annoyance at them, and yet have too much basic affection to part. This is a marvelous movie, and I regret that I can't find it on video to share with others.

Maybe it's that I'm not gay that allows me to appreciate the fine craft it exhibits, since it doesn't threaten me personally.
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10/10
why do people hate this GREAT film?
kow78928 April 2007
Warning: Spoilers
Because they can't see story. And because it's about OLD men in love who swish a bit and we all know that gay men never swish. Watch this film as soon as you can. And you will see that Harry is not a hairdresser but a BARBER, and Charle a has been/ never was actor who helps out around the barber shop as he has no other employment. Harry does not hate his bedridden mother, but loves her deeply and is moved to tears because he can't help hurting her when changing her clothes. You try taking care of an elderly person, I have. It's Charlie's mother who hates him. And motivation? Look for this Harry's self worth is wrapped up in his sex appeal, which was all in his beautiful hair. Hair which fell out overnight, crushing him emotionally. He's now impotent, making Charlie frustrated, and Harry is the only one Charlie wants, Charlie doesn't care about the hair but can't make Harry believe it. Much has been written about the fact that the pair live on a street which dead ends at a grave yard, but dear, we all live on that street. The last image in the film his Harry and Charlie walking together to face a hostile world while Harry's mother looks at them beaming with love for her son and joy that he has a life mate. I am too.
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9/10
Not bad and performances by Rex Harrison & Richard Burton worth seeing.
tsch87512518 November 2004
The film came out in 1969 and was based on a popular play by Charles Dyer. The Great Stanley Donen got a hold of it and decided to bring it to the big screen with two BIG stars! The only flaw is it's not really big screen material. Please let me make it clear I enjoyed the film . I'm just not sure even with it's two great stars it was a film for one and all - It's appeal was too limited. That being said it is definitely worth watching for the stars alone. Try to see it in it's wide screen format. Stanley Donen (as always) does a beautiful job directing a story about two gay middle-aged barbers in the back streets of seedy old London. Richard Burton is excellent as the more quite one - His Harry is very sympathetic - Taking care of his bed-ridden mother as well as his long time mate, Charlie (Rex Harrison). He keeps his bald head wrapped in a towel turban to protect his business and is also self-conscious about his weight ( Watch as he tugs at his clothes throughout the film - Nice touch!)which, Charlie loves to tease him about. It's one of Mr. Burton's overlooked roles - Too bad! Now for Rex, I'm biased because he's my favorite actor (Please read my comments on the original Doctor Dolittle) - Rex Harrison does an outstanding job as his role of Charlie - The more showier of the two he really stands out. Things to watch for are his excellent body language - Watch his sway in walk and pulled back shoulders, yet this is a very insecure man. The emotional scenes are right on the money - and he has several of them throughout the film! Donen the director gets a performance out of Rex I've never seen and it's impressive. Remember this is the same man who gave us Caesar in the Burton/Taylor Cleopatra, Henry Higgins in My Fair Lady & the lovable Doctor Dolittle to name a few. Charles Dyer (Screenwriter) gave the character of Charlie this trait in his speech pattern, where he always repeats himself. Normally this would drive me up the wall and to be honest I don't think it was needed. But Rex makes it work - another less seasoned actor (Or any modern actor living today) would not be able to pull it off. The music by Dudley Moore is interesting, It now comes off dated. I'm not saying it doesn't work for the film, I just think I would have liked a more sympathetic score - maybe something from Michel Legrand. I think another reason I enjoy this film is because in 1969 two leading men took a BIG chance going against type and actually pulled it off.

As a film on a whole it's not bad and if your a fan of either star all I can say is - WATCH IT! If your gay - You'll say "Damn, we've come a long way" - If your straight you'll say "Huh?" Just kidding - actually you might say "Not Bad"
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7/10
Two great actors and a bit of sensibility
merbelle25 July 2010
I can see why this might have been disappointing from a 1969 perspective, especially if it was the first relatively mainstream gay couple movie. They behave like an old embittered married couple, hardly promoting the concept of gay relationship harmony. If you're gay, you may have hoped for people with more obvious emotional strength and dignity, to start things off.

But from this end, nearly 40 years later, there's a great deal to admire. Most of us can see them as just people, yes, suffering the issues of the day in certain respects, but otherwise going through the same relationship struggles experienced by any two people who've been together for a very long time.

With only a few mild changes, this movie could be set today, because it's confronting the aging process, a somewhat unequal relationship, the problem of elderly parents—just plain real life stuff told with pathos and humor.

As to the swishiness of either character, say all you want about the womanizing ways of these two actors, they both swished and preened through many of their other previous roles as well. It was enhanced in this movie, but not unnaturally so. There's now enough water under the bridge for us to understand this isn't the Singular Gay Trait, but it certainly does exist, and it's not necessarily the evidence for self-loathing by these two characters. Anyone can have doubts about themselves, and most of us do, in one way or another.

It's not a great movie, because it moves in fits and spurts and there are moments that seem a little emotionally vacant. But it's a decent movie because the characters are believable and you do grow to care for and about them.
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10/10
Positive
gmagabs4 August 2007
I have searched for this film for years. I am updating my comment of 2003.

My opinion of this film has not changed, I still love it & want to purchase a copy.

I want to say that with the added years & the experience of learning about human beings, this film is a masterpiece of reality done so well by two of the greatest & most highly regarded actors of our time.

I cannot comprehend any negative views about this story or the portrayal of it. This is LIFE!

I am not gay, nor am I judgmental. I am an 72 year old greatgrandmother of 16 with an open mind!
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10/10
I would love to have a copy!!!!
gabs351 May 2003
I happened on to this film on TV years ago after it had been on for a few mins. so I did not get the title. I was transfixed! I searched for a long time and thanx to my pc, I found the title. I loved this film! The parts were played brilliantly by the entire cast. It is both comic and drama; the realism of another lifestyle at it's most human elements.
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6/10
"God help us all...and Oscar Wilde."
moonspinner5525 June 2007
Playful, occasionally moving, often funny comedy about a gay hair-stylist and his lover/business partner living in London, an aging couple going on 30 years together, who each jab at the others' ego like two bitchy woodpeckers--but who consistently lean on each other (and feed off each other) like two halves of the same person. Richard Burton and Rex Harrison were reportedly unhappy making this film, and perhaps were only present for their large-for-1969 salaries, but they actually get a rhythm going that is rather infectious. Charles Dyer adapted his own "intimate" British play--and was probably reeling once his quaint, humble material got blown up on the big screen with major stars--yet his theatrical and literary pretensions are worked out charmingly, and some of his lines get big laughs. There are times when Burton seems more apt to go the distance personally with his character than Harrison is; then, in the very next scene, they flip and it's Harrison who takes off. The "plot" doesn't amount to much (Harrison's Charlie must attend court after being caught in lascivious garb at the same moment his estranged daughter is planning a visit), but to director Stanley Donen's credit the focus of the piece seldom wavers--we never even meet the daughter, which in this case is a blessing. The gay text is not handled madly or foolishly; Donen pairs the scenes down to quick, efficient little episodes, and this keeps the pacing brisk and gives the lead performances a nice edge (we never tire of them). Much ballyhoo was made over two heterosexual stars "camping it up" on screen, but I saw very little swishing. Dyer gets a few dramatic moments perfectly right, and he's written some good lines (such as when Harrison tells Burton, "I need someone new now and then"). The finer sequences are not trampled on by Donen, nor by his editor. "Staircase" is pithy and beguiling and should resonate with audiences who don't mind a tentative mix of sassy humor, self-pity, impatient wisecracks, and a tearing down of vanity. **1/2 from ****
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10/10
Quite Enjoyable!
NickSt4 June 2000
This film was one of the best for its' time and subject matter. I salute Rex Harrison and Richard Burton for taking on such unconventional roles in 1969. I really loved this movie, and came to understand and appreciate what gay life was like in London in those days.
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2/10
Too stagy for film, too unlikable for even the most discriminating taste.
mark.waltz5 July 2013
Warning: Spoilers
The novelty of "Cleopatra's" Rex Harrison and Richard Burton playing British homosexuals may have seemed like an interesting acting exercise, but the result is a depressing and somewhat offensive story. They are a gay version of "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf's" George and Martha with Burton cast as "the wife" and Harrison "the husband", both unlikable and stereotypical, making the friends of Mart Crowley's "The Boys in the Band" seem totally real in comparison. Burton spends the entire film wearing a Norma Desmond like turban (actually something that more resembles a large dish cloth), braying like real-life wife Elizabeth Taylor did in "Virginia Woolf" with Harrison giving hateful attacks on Burton every chance he gets. With Stonewall just around the corner and the fight for gay rights already underway, this is to gay themed films what Stepin Fetchit and Willie Best were to characterizations of black characters in the 1930's. Cathleen Nesbitt, who had earlier played Harrison's mother in "My Fair Lady" on Broadway, gets to do nothing but babble here as his demented mother who is obviously being mistreated in her nursing home. There's nothing to recommend here even as a curiosity piece, the result being more like a gay horror story than a serious drama about two lovers who obviously hate each other but are too miserable to try and find happiness elsewhere.
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9/10
Interesting pairing of Richard Burton and Rex Harrison as lovers
maxren1725 June 2007
I saw this film when it opened in 1969. It did not do well at all,for obvious reasons, it was pretty "out there" for the time. There is this very interesting and off beat opening with two drag queens singing a song titled "staircase." The story, as I remember it, is about two older gay men who are lovers and own a barber shop. Richard Burton is quiet and sensitive and Rex Harrison is loud and insensitive.

A perfect pairing that reflects what so many relationships are about, opposites attract. There is a real caring warmth between these two older men, even with the philandering of one.

It's a small movie that really evokes life in the late 60s. Donen creates a very realistic, very British, middle class environment for his characters. The added twist is that this is a very moving story about two men who have been together as lovers and partners for many years.

One of a only few films dealing with men in a homosexual relationship that rings true and captures the reality of such a union.
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2/10
Nothing Rings True
eddiekluber29 June 2007
The two leads supposedly hated playing their roles, and it shows. Burton isn't bad, but Harrison is just awful. Toward the end when he does his "not alone, not alone" speech, it's just hollow words. But we have to remember the time it was made. Boys in the Band, like this film, also sends the message that gay people hate themselves and their lives. I have to laugh at the guy above who wrote that he's not gay, so he likes the movie because it doesn't threaten him. How pompous! I AM gay, and the movie doesn't threaten me at all. A bad film is a bad film, no matter what the subject matter; and this is a baaaaad film! Also the scene in the park where Harrison is checking out kids playing sends that old "gay people will threaten your innocent children" message. And how about that old ugly "hustler" in the blonde wig that Harrison picks up! Were we meant to believe he was a young guy? Also the idea of Burton wearing a surgical bandage all the time to cover his baldness was ridiculous. There WERE realistic toupees even then. As I said, NOTHING rings true.
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10/10
Life's like that, imperfect, warts and all
lora6423 June 2001
A curious excursion by two of the best actors in film history. Of course they run against the social grain of the day with this topic of a maturing gay couple growing old together, displaying their ordinary weaknesses by tit-for-tat banter both humorous and stark. It rather reminds me of the "kitchen sink" variety of dramas -- no frills and a steady dose of everyday realism which most of us prefer to not see since the reason we watch movies at all is to help us forget the sober realities of life.

There's little room for niceties here to redeem it but that isn't the purpose anyways. I almost get the feeling of a bleak setting in the style of Charles Dickens but with a very modern day twist to it.

I agree it would have been more convincing to have two other actors more suited to this type of subject; however, 'hats off' for the Burton/Harrison endeavor, they are indeed versatile in their craft. I was quite absorbed in the continual tense exchanges between these two as it's such a total departure from the usual roles we remember them by. Real life is seldom fair, is it.
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3/10
Why Was This Movie Ever Made?
jenkins-213 July 2007
Finally caught this curio the other night on TCM. What a dreadful, depressing mess. I know it was a play, but what were the producers thinking? That anyone would flock to this depressing, repetitive bitchfest? Worth seeing only for the curiosity factor of Rex Harrison and Richard Burton playing 2 middle aged queens living together and hating each other in some London slum (though filmed in Paris) There is not one witty line or any sense of affection or reason why these 2 bitter losers stayed together for so long. The film goes nowhere. Nothing but arguments and constant bickering. Harrison gets a court notice for doing drag, but the movie ends before they ever get to court. A meeting with his adult daughter is brought up, but that plot point is dropped also. Burton does bring some dignity to his role and I think came off better than Harrison. The low point comes when Harrison picks up and brings home some ugly, aging prostitute. Kudos to Kathleen Nesbitt who scores in a degrading part as Burton's bedridden mother. Hard to believe Stanly Donen directed this bore. This has to be the nadir of his career. Any young gay person seeing this in 1969 would've been driven to thoughts of suicide (this is what's in store for me?) had they taken this story seriously. Thankfully few people paid to see it. Giving it a three, only because of the weird casting. Good luck if you can sit through it till the end!
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1/10
Truly so bad its probably a camp classic.
BigWhiskers26 June 2007
Warning: Spoilers
I had never seen this movie before and so I tuned in late last night on Turner Classic Movies channel to watch it. TCM is doing this gay/lesbian influence in Hollywood film festival all this month on Mon and Wed Nights. I have always found Rex Harrison extremely sexy and handsome but this movie is not that Rex Harrison. Caked in makeup ,prancing and queening it up every chance he got just turned me off. Richard Burton wearing a head wrap like Gloria Swanson was just so laughably stupid. Harrison and Burton play lovers who have been together for 30 yrs but you'd never know it since all Harrison does is crucify Burton with mean,ugly insults and Queenie bitching. Burton simply wimps and whines like a little bitch too. With lines like "Oh your horrid you bitch" and "You prancy little pony" its no wonder this movie was panned by gays and lesbians alike. It was introduced on TCM by George Osbourne and a gay writer who abhorred it but called it a movie that should be seen if just for the cast against type of its stars.

Supposedly according to the gay author, Harrison and Burton did it only for the huge paychecks of 1 millions dollars a piece which by todays standards would be the 20 million monster paydays you see the big stars get.Also,Harrison supposedly was disgusted with some of his dialog and left for Italy -only to come back when he was threatened with a lawsuit from the movie studio and Burton also only stuck around since his lover Elizabeth Taylor was filming a movie close by at the time. This movie came out in 1969 which was around the time the Stonewall riots in NYC were going on so who knows what influences it had. The problem with this movie to me was the fact that Hollywood always has gay men portrayed as effeminate queens or young twink types who do drag, even the intro to the movie is a 5 minute vignette of 2 god awful ugly drag queens singing the really bad title song. There is one scene though that I did like where Harrison has gone out and picked up a hustler for the night(lord he must have been hard up ,the blond man he takes home is ugly and certainly not that young).Anyway after humiliating Burton in front of this man by drinking and laughing ,Harrison finally goes too far and Burton backhands him hard against a bookcase causing him to bleed. It was the only part of the movie where Burton sticks up for himself. In the end ,Harrison has to go to trial for a crime,he does not want Burton to come with him since he thinks his old gay paunchy lover with a head wrap will cause him to get the book thrown at him.So he leaves their flat and heads towards the couthouse, as he tries to cross the street he realizes that he cannot do this alone and screams for Burton who runs to his side and holds him as they cross the street . I really wanted them to show some affection and maybe hug but the only scene for affection is when Harrison admits hes scared and falls into Burtons arms on the bed and Burton lightly strokes his hair. This movie could have been better if they had handled it with more sensitivity and understanding instead what you get is nothing more than 2 old has been queens bitch-fighting.. 1 out or 10
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1/10
Utterly dreadful, unbelievable, and unwatchable
kynoceph19 March 1999
Stupefyingly miscast, Rex Harrison and Richard Burton attempt to act queeny in a pointless, depressing film about two aging gay men in 1969 England. For Christ's sake, they're both HAIRDRESSERS. That tells you everything you need to know about all the imagination and work that went into this film. Richard Burton is completely and utterly unconvincing as a gay man, and Rex Harrison seems absolutely lost, constantly squinting off into the distance as if he was looking for Eliza Doolittle, or at least a decent Pushmi-Pullyu. This movie is so thoroughly bad that it isn't even good for humor value. It oozes homophobia from every rotten frame, and the main message it seems to have is that homosexuals are loathsome people and should loathe themselves, in public, out loud, as often as possible, while prancing about with bad hairstyles. Watching Harrison and Burton play gay men will give any modern viewer the same sick cringing feeling you get from watching Stepin Fetchit say "Yassuh, Boss!" in old 40's movies. THIS MOVIE SHOULD BE AVOIDED AT ALL COSTS. IF GIVEN THE CHOICE BETWEEN SUICIDE OR THIS MOVIE, CHOOSE SUICIDE.
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1/10
Homophobic and dull
preppy-313 November 2001
A gay couple (Rex Harrison and Richard Burton) in 1960s England. Burton is a hairdresser (of course) and Harrison is an actor. They complain nonstop, tear each other apart verbally, dress horribly, hate their mothers and are depressed and full of self-loathing.

I suppose this was revolutionary in 1969 but it's horribly offensive today. The movie was subtitled "A sad gay story". The script is dull, the film looks horrible and the actors...Harrison minces around and preens so much I got very angry--a sick, disgraceful performance. I heard he wasn't too proud of it either. Burton is actually OK--he brings some dignity to his role. But this film is a total waste of time. It just shows gay men as being pathetic lonely creatures and is very condescending. Offensiveness aside it's sleep-inducing--I kept dozing off! Sick, depressing, homophobic...there's no reason to see this. Makes "Boys in the Band" look like a comedy.

Dudley Moore did the music!!!
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Misfire that set the gay rights movement back several years
aemmering26 June 2007
All this film does is insult the intelligence and lifestyle of adult gay men. The shock value of watching two famously heterosexual male actors primp and mince about as poofs is about all this mixed up mess has going for it. I don't recall (for some strange reason) much of the specific lines of dialog, but I do remember that much of that was just as bad as most of the acting and all of the direction. This film survives the years as a curio only. If the director wanted to make fun of gays, he should have made a film with Nazi punks beating up their fellow gay officers, or better yet killing them-or something.

BTW, the Burton character is not a hairdresser, he's actually a barber, cutting men's hair--not necessarily a gay profession. Sexy Rexy plays a down on his luck, never-was actor who helps his boyfriend around the shop. Talk about stereotypes--neither one dresses ladie's hair!
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Actors Camp Themselves Cross-eyed
Anthony-915 April 1999
While the film in general, and actors Burton and Harrison in particular, were an embarrassment to all involved; it was based on the play by Charles Dyer which played in London's West End and on Broadway to great success. The stage version was about 180 degrees removed from the film version. The Broadway production of "Staircase" starred Eli Wallach and Milo O'Shea, and was directed by Barry Morse. Barry Morse said the following about the stage play: "It was one of the first productions to show truthful - but at the same moving and funny - portrayals of gay life. The film version was damaging to the text of the play, which was written in a very perceptive and sensitive way. It wasn't meant to be played as if it was some flagrantly exaggerated review sketch."
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4/10
A couple of hams on rye
fubar-218 March 1999
Burton and Harrison mince, preen, prance, and flounce about the screen in a horrendous display of bad acting. This movie would set gay rights back a century if it weren't so badly made and badly dated. One must wonder what made it a hit on Broadway at the time. The score is an especially abysmal atrocity by Dudley Moore. All those involved (especially Donen) should be ashamed.
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1/10
a real disaster
Roger-7926 January 2002
This movie is a real disaster: insulting, with awfully stereotypical acting and an incredibly poor script that one wonders why this movie has been made for.

If I had seen that movie as a closeted gay teen, I would have been shocked and ashamed. Fortunately I have seen it first as a (by then openly gay) movie-addict in my twenties, so I could dismiss it as only an embarrassingly bad film. Either you just forget about this miserable movie or you take it as a source for filmhistory, namely how bad, how ridiculous, how homophobic so-called comedies sometimes could be in the sixties (alas, there are not that many of this kind...). I'm afraid there's nothing more to say about it.
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2/10
Revolting, But a Window into the 1960s Mindset
pfogertyca28 June 2007
Warning: Spoilers
This movie should have been entitled "Hateful, Self-Loathing, Bitter, Ugly, Hopeless Staircase." Make no mistake about it - this movie sends a clear message to audiences that homosexuals live miserable lives. It's 1 hour and 49 minutes of mincing, bickering, sniping, and degradation. Thank God this film bombed when it was released; otherwise, who knows how many gay men would have committed suicide or stayed forever in the closet after seeing it? That said, the film is an important time capsule reflecting heterosexual attitudes toward gays during the 1960s and a reminder of just how far images of gays on screen have progressed in the last 38 years.

Rex Harrison and Richard Burton play long-term lovers Charles and Harry, respectively. Charles dons mascara and "male cosmetics" before venturing outside. He's a narcissistic heel who goes out drinking nightly and sometimes brings home tricks to flaunt in front of Harry. Harry is the long-suffering partner who's recently been afflicted with alopecia and can't bear to leave his bald head unwrapped, even when he's taking a bath. Harry endures Charles' verbal abuse and philandering, dutifully cleaning the flat, fixing Charles' meals, and tending to his own bedridden mother who lives with with them both (the scenes between Burton and Cathleen Nesbitt as the mother are particularly distasteful).

Harry owns and works in the "Chez Harry" barbershop below the men's flat. Charles helps out at the shop, but spends most of his time lamenting his failed attempt at an acting career. Charles' daughter from his marriage to a woman is coming to visit, and Charles is worried about how he'll explain Harry's presence. On top of that, Charles has been served with a notice to appear in court for an incident involving cross dressing and putting on a performance in a local pub. The thought of having to explain the whole ugly mess and being "outed" as homosexual has Charles either lashing out bitterly at Harry or sobbing uncontrollably over what he sees as the end of his world.

Charles and Harry clearly detest one another after being together for so long, yet they can't possibly envision their lives without each other. Charles needs Harry to wait on him hand and foot and to comfort him when he breaks down; Harry needs to feel needed, and Charles is the only person who can fit the bill for him. The exchanges between Harry and Charles are vile, bitchy, and condescending. At one point, they resort to physical violence. Only once, when Charles fears that Harry is dead, does any sort of humanity come through. Otherwise, it's like an all-male version of "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf," with Rex Harrison in the Elizabeth Taylor role.

Harrison's character shares the same name as the film's screenwriter, Charles Dyer, who also penned the stage play upon which the movie is based. I don't know if Dyer is straight or gay, but he's homophobic and makes no attempt to disguise it. Director Stanley Donen, known for classics like "Singing in the Rain," drains any semblance of warmth or hope from the film. Even the staging is cold and dreary and depressing - most of the film takes place in Harry and Charles' run-down, cramped apartment.

Harrison and Burton are surprisingly effective as the sparring partners. Though they generate no sparks together, they bring out in each other the physical and spiritual despair the characters are living.

"Staircase" is a film lacking any sense of pride or dignity. It's a sad look back at how homosexuals were once regarded, but it gets two stars for at least being a sobering gay history lesson.
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WASTED TALENTS
peacham22 September 1999
This was a poor play,so naturally it made a poor movie.The casting was amiss. Harrison and Burton were two of the centuries finest actors, but, also two of the centuries most notorious womanizers, Harrison tries his best but manages only to give a few honest moments. Burton does not even accomplish that much. a total homosexual stereotype that would be more appropriate to a farce. Cathleen Nesbitt as Burton's mother gives the only honest portrayal in the film.But why blame the actors? It all boils down to the direction. a director is the controlling force of a film. if he could not evoke honest portrayals it rest on his head. ( AND THE AUTHOR.). a waste of talent in a poor production.
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This "Staircase" only leads one way -- Down!
Poseidon-328 June 2007
Warning: Spoilers
Plenty of jaws dropped in 1969 when two of the cinema's most notorious swordsmen took the roles of two long-term homosexual lovers in this adaptation of a British play. Egged on by their then-remarkable salaries of $1 million apiece, they assumed the roles of a luckless former actor (Harrison) who lives with his barber boyfriend (Burton) of 30 years, bickering and picking at each other at every turn. Harrison is facing a major crisis after having been arrested for wearing drag at a local watering hole while Burton grapples with his recent and sudden hair loss as well as caring for his mother Nesbitt, who has been stricken with severe arthritis. A sort of lavender George and Martha from "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" they drink and argue and incorporate a stranger into their ongoing drama. There really isn't much more plot than that as the film examines their complex co-dependent relationship. It's one that engenders very few feelings of interest or entertainment (though there are certainly many long-standing gay and straight couples who live this sort of sexless, battling existence.) Harrison, who picks on Burton for his baldness while wearing an obvious toupee himself, mixes moments of genuine emotion with some really bad, stereotypical body language. He's given many one-liners and put-downs, but more than a few of them are impenetrable through his clipped accent and rapid way of speaking. Burton (an actor who admitted to toying unsuccessfully with bisexuality in amongst his legion of female lovers) tries to invest his character with depth and feeling, but comes off pretty preposterously, adopting a prissy manner and struggling to present a believable gay man. He's saddled also with bandages around his head for the greater part of his screen time. Apart from the hot and cold performances of the leads, this is a drab, dour, depressing story in the first place with little to offer. Any camp value present is minimal and not worth sitting through the film for. The bottom line is that these people are not identifiable, sympathetic, interesting or entertaining and it's hard to know why anyone cared to make the film in the first place. Curiosity value is fulfilled quickly and the leads don't share any physical affection to speak of, so there's nothing to offer there either. Filmed in Paris as a substitute for London, it's mostly a two-character affair, though Nesbitt is quite remarkable in her sickbed portrayal. Lehmann appears briefly as Harrison's mother and is effective as well. It's pretty sad when two aged biddies in virtual cameo roles wind up being miles more fascinating than the ostensible leads of the film! Lewis appears, to no particular effect, as a hustler Harrison meets one lonely night. The music is by Dudley Moore of all people.
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4/10
Two Guys seeking Love
whpratt125 June 2007
It was rather funny watching Rex Harrison, (Charles Dyer) playing the role as a homosexual considering his real role in life as a womanizer who was dating Carole Landis who killed herself. Richard Burton, (Harry Leeds) who was married to Elizabeth Taylor perform as hairdressers and Harry owning the salon called "Chez". Harry Leeds gives a great performance in this role and gives himself and everyone else class in the way he shows his being gay to his lover Charles Dyer and other people. These men sort of love their mothers, but there is a underlying feeling that they are both seeking a deeper relationship when various problems come between their relationship. Missed this picture and was glad I was able to view a classic from 1970.
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3/10
Staircase Takes A Downward Spiral *1/2
edwagreen2 May 2010
Warning: Spoilers
Rex Harrison and Richard Burton certainly perfected their parts as aging frustrated homosexuals in this 1969 movie. Correction, Harrison claims to be bisexual as he was supposedly married.

Life has not been all that great to our heroes in this film. There is built in frustration, anger and the two cope with two haggard mothers, Burton's at home and Harrison's in an institution.

Burton owns the barber shop downstairs and Harrison works with him. Theirs has become an absolutely dull life, where they talk about their past accomplishments as life just seems to be passing them by.

Even when Harrison brings in another guy to have a fling with, nothing really occurs.

Of course, by the end, the two guys realize they need each other but did the audience need each of them?
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