1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Sympathetic & informative view of the original Angry Young Man
lor_ from New York, New York
8 December 2011
As a fan, I was thrilled with Tony Palmer's sensitive portrait of
playwright John Osborne, made a decade after his death. It puts into
perspective his achievements and personality, after evidently many
years in which the man, like so many other precocious artists (Orson
Welles perhaps the archetype), was written off by the establishment.
Since Palmer is best known for his Ken Russell-ian appreciations of
classical composers, he not surprisingly includes moving pastoral
scenes set at Osborne's country estate, accompanied by appropriate
score, but the guts of this documentary consists of interviews with his
collaborators, friends and admirers. Many of them have passed on
(notably Tony Richardson), but older interviews provide a who's who of
The most emotional moments are provided by Helen Osborne, his widow,
who touchingly wraps up the show, and the late Natasha Richardson with
her warm & funny reminiscences of Osborne's days hanging out with her
dad. Other wives, the incomparable actress Mary Ure as well as Jill
Bennett, are shown in clips acting opposite (respectively) Richard
Burton in Richardson's film version of Osborne's greatest work LOOK
BACK IN ANGER and latter opposite Osborne on stage.
The sister of another wife Penelope Gilliatt, is perhaps the most
outspoken interviewee, recounting John's tempestuous relationship with
My favorite contributor is Nicol Williamson, giving great insight into
Osborne's work and temperament, and featured in explosive performance
in a tape of the play (rather than the movie) of INADMISSIBLE EVIDENCE
(I was privileged to see him revive it at the Roundabout Theatre in
Manhattan in the '80s).
An interesting roster of fellow playwrights, including Christopher
Hampton, David Hare, Charles Wood and Peter Nichols pay tribute to
Osborne's trail-blazing efforts.
Perhaps Olivier's classic performance as Archie Rice in Osborne's THE
ENTERTAINER (put into context with the character's real-life role
model, Max Miller) is the most vivid demonstration of the writer's
success. His clips, from a tape of the original play rather than
Richardson's film, demonstrate John's rage channeled into an
overwhelmingly entertaining and poignant format, contrasting with the
bitterness and bile of his other works, among which 1972's A SENSE OF
DETACHMENT still seems fresh and ready to outrage 30 years on.
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