A juvenile offender (Sir Tom Courtenay) at a tough reform school impresses its Governor (Sir Michael Redgrave) with his running ability and is encouraged to compete in an upcoming race, but faces ridicule from his peers.
Five office friends meet up for a night on the town to celebrate the forthcoming marriage of one of them. As the night wears on and the drink starts to tell, they become more confidential ... See full summary »
On the far side of middle age, Archie Rice (Sir Laurence Olivier) lives in a British seaside resort with his father, retired successful vaudevillian Billy Rice (Roger Livesey), second wife Phoebe Rice (Brenda de Banzie), and doting son Frank Rice (Sir Alan Bates). Following in retired Billy's footsteps, Archie is a song-and-dance music hall headliner, with Frank supporting his dad as his shows' stage manager. The waning popularity of Archie's type of shows, a dying form of entertainment, is not helped by Archie's stale second rate material, which brings in small unappreciative crowds. Archie clings to his long-held lifestyle, including heavy drinking and chronic infidelity, of which Phoebe is aware. What Archie has not told his offspring is that Phoebe was his mistress while he was still married to their now deceased mother. His want to be a music hall headliner is despite his financial problems, he an undischarged bankrupt who now signs Phoebe's name to everything. Phoebe wants them ...Written by
As someone who lives only a couple of miles away from where this film was set, it makes me practically WEEP to see how busy and vibrant Morecambe used to be in the 50s/60s. OK, so the film is about how it's passed its heyday, but compared to how it is now - seeing the same scenery (it's hardly changed) - the Midland Hotel, The Winter Gardens (now a nightclub), it's hard not to get painful pangs of nostalgia.
This is ultimately a depressing film - Archie is one of those people who deals with tragedy by "blanking" it out with bad jokes. In the film he seduces the winner (2nd place) of a beauty contest - a woman old enough to be his daughter. Shortly after the film, Laurence Oliver married Joan Plowright who actually PLAYED his daughter in this film. Anyone for irony?
There are some wonderfully subtle takes on British "class" - I love Thora Hird (a long way from Praise Be and Stannah Stairlifts here) as the grasping mum of the Beauty-contest winner, while Brenda de Banzie is great as neurotic, looked-over, teary, nervy Phoebe - "I've got a new job in Woolworths, on the electrical counter. It's OK, but the girls are a bit common." Well Phoebe, you'll be pleased to know that the branch of Woolworths is still there...
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