Aston (Robert Shaw), a quiet, reserved man, lives alone in a top-floor cluttered room of a small abandoned house in a poor London district. He befriends and takes in Mac Davies (Donald Pleasence), an old derelict who has been fired from a menial job in a café. In time, Aston offers him a job as caretaker of the house. Aston's brother, Mick (Sir Alan Bates), a taunting sadist, harasses the derelict when his brother is away, countermanding his orders. Eventually, Aston, irritated by the cantankerous old man, puts him out.Written by
The film was made during the winter of 1962/63, one of the worst in British history. See more »
I could turn this place into a penthouse. For instance this room. This room could have been the kitchen. Right size, nice window, sun comes in. I'd have I'd have teal-blue, copper and parchment linoleum squares. I'd have those colours re-echoed in the walls. I'd offset the kitchen units with charcoal-grey worktops. Plenty of room for cupboards for the crockery. We'd have a small wall cupboard, a large wall cupboard, a corner wall cupboard with revolving shelves. You shouldn't be short of ...
See more »
This three-hander piece has no plot to speak of and, given author Harold Pinter's (typically) obscure intentions, attention must be paid constantly (not an easy task, having to contend with both the heavy British accents on display and the rather low volume of the audio itself); after having gone through the various supplements on the exemplary BFI DVD, the meaning of it all is still very much open to interpretation!
The performances, however, are extremely impressive and the fact that all three actors had already appeared in the various stage versions certainly helped: Donald Pleasance and Alan Bates have showy roles that are often broadly comic, but a brooding Robert Shaw is unusually subdued for the most part - though the character's speech about his traumatic spell in hospital, where he suffered at the hands of a sadistic doctor, is as riveting as the actor's celebrated (and similarly quietly-spoken) one about the transportation of the Atom Bomb in JAWS (1975). Though making only minute concessions to cinematic conventions, Donner's handling (abetted by the stark cinematography of Nicolas Roeg and some weird ambient sounds by Ron Grainer in place of a score) ensures that the whole doesn't come across as merely a piece of filmed theatre; it still feels at odds even with the contemporaneous "Kitchen Sink" films of the British New Wave, with which style THE CARETAKER has forever been identified!
Pinter's dialogue - alternately scathing and compassionate - is remarkably adult for its time, and the project only came through with the intervention of some celebrated admirers of the play: Richard Burton, Leslie Caron, Noel Coward, Peter Hall, Peter Sellers and Elizabeth Taylor, among others! I've watched the following Pinter-scripted films: THE SERVANT (1963), THE PUMPKIN EATER (1964), THE QUILLER MEMORANDUM (1966), ACCIDENT (1967), THE BIRTHDAY PARTY (1968), THE GO-BETWEEN (1970), THE LAST TYCOON (1976) and THE FRENCH LIEUTENANT'S WOMAN (1981); however, only THE BIRTHDAY PARTY was adapted from his own work (also featuring Shaw and largely revolving around three eccentric characters) and it's similarly intractable - if still required - viewing.
13 of 24 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?
| Report this