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The Dresser (1983)

PG | | Drama | 6 December 1983 (USA)
An effeminate personal assistant of a deteriorating veteran actor struggles to get him through a difficult performance of King Lear.

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(screenplay)
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Nominated for 5 Oscars. Another 5 wins & 12 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Sir
...
...
Zena Walker ...
...
...
...
Irene
Betty Marsden ...
Violet Manning
Sheila Reid ...
Lydia Gibson
Lockwood West ...
Donald Eccles ...
Mr. Godstone
Llewellyn Rees ...
Horace Brown
Guy Manning ...
Benton
Anne Blackman ...
Beryl (as Anne Mannion)
Kevin Stoney ...
C. Rivers Lane
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Storyline

In a touring Shakespearean theater group, a backstage hand - the dresser, is devoted to the brilliant but tyrannical head of the company. He struggles to support the deteriorating star as the company struggles to carry on during the London blitz. The pathos of his backstage efforts rival the pathos in the story of Lear and the Fool that is being presented on-stage, as the situation comes to a crisis. Written by xenophil

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

What happens backstage is always true drama. And often pure comedy.

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

PG | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

6 December 1983 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

El vestidor  »

Box Office

Opening Weekend:

$43,132 (USA) (11 December 1983)

Gross:

$5,310,748 (USA)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

(Rankcolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The character "Sir" (played by Albert Finney) was inspired by Sir Donald Wolfit, Wolfit actually being a "Sir" as he had a knighthood. The character of "Sir" in the film is only ever referred to by that title and is never known by a personal name. See more »

Goofs

After Sir and Norman leave the marketplace, they're passed by a Routemaster bus. These buses were first used in London in 1954, and weren't used outside London until the 1970's. See more »

Quotes

Sir: There are thousands of children all over this beloved land of ours, scavenging the larders for something sweet. If only they came to me, I could tell them of the one person in England who has an inexhaustible supply of chocolate. It is I who have to carry her on, dead, as Cordelia. It is I who have to lift her up in my arms. Thank Christ, I thought, for rationing. But no, she'd find sugar in a sand dune!
See more »

Connections

Referenced in A Rather English Marriage (1998) See more »

Soundtracks

In the Hall of the Mountain King
(uncredited)
Written by Edvard Grieg
Played by the theatre orchestra
See more »

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User Reviews

 
A delightful depiction of the acting world
21 August 2010 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

What happens backstage is always true drama. And often pure comedy. Such is the case of The Dresser, a film about an effeminate wardrobe man who is devoted to the deteriorating lead of the acting troupe he travels with. The film takes place in one night about a particularly difficult performance of William Shakespeare's King Lear. Albert Finney plays Sir, the lead role of the performance. He is in no condition to perform such a difficult role, yet he perseveres anyways with the help of his Dresser, Norman (Tom Courtenay). The two powerful leads are the highlight of this beautiful film.

The Dresser is what acting is all about. It is an intriguing blend of film acting and stage acting. Albert Finney and Tom Courtenay give exquisite and robust performances. Their conflicting personalities make them a delightful pair to watch interact. The acting in this film has the kind of prowess and impact of a stage performance with its loud and exaggerated movements. This kind of acting only works in certain settings, and The Dresser is a perfect example of where it not only works but is very necessary. It allows for a detachment from reality, drawing one into the theatrical world, something which stands out in such a unique and perplexing way.

Peter Yates directs this film with precise and aesthetically glamorous grandeur. It is a grand film that doesn't go too far out of line and never gets lost in itself. Yates directs with a keen eye for subtle detail and sparkling brilliance. The film is written with the same kind of subdued wit and beauty, making the film fit together nicely. The dialouge is great and the actors who deliver it bring so much life to the characters and script that it makes for a brilliant expose of the acting world.

The Dresser is a great film that accomplishes beauty and immersion without an immaculate setting. The film is subtly fantastic. Definitely check this one out.


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