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|Index||28 reviews in total|
If you can get past your initial shock of seeing two of the theater's most notorious womanizers as a gay couple, you'll be rewarded with a surprisingly tender love story. Directed by Stanley Donen at the height of his powers (he had just filmed the classic "Two for the Road", another film about a battling couple), the film walks a very thin line between farce and straight-away depression, particularly in the heart-breaking scenes between Burton and his invalid mother, Cathleen Nesbitt. Burton is uncommonly good in a role that goes beyond initial stereotype into something very gentle and very telling: a portrait of a man who only wants as much love given to him, as he has to give. It's a marvelously affecting performance. Harrison proves less adept at his role; he plays it more for the back row than for the camera, but his chemistry with Burton cannot help but come through. A funny, sad film that does have something to say - not about gays or straights - but about lonely people and their search for love and acceptance.
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
result. The contrast between Burton's prissy old woman and Harrison's
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
other's foibles, constantly express annoyance at them, and yet have too
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.
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.
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"
*** This review may contain 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.
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 ****
I have searched for this film for years. I am updating my comment of
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!
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.
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.
*** This review may contain 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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