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Bartleby (1970)

PG | | Drama | 17 May 1973 (Hungary)
An asocial and enigmatic office clerk refuses to do his work, leaving it up to his boss to decide what should be done with him.


Anthony Friedman (as Anthony Friedmann)


Rodney Carr-Smith (screenplay), Anthony Friedman (screenplay) (as Anthony Friedmann) | 1 more credit »

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Cast overview:
Paul Scofield ... The Accountant
John McEnery ... Bartleby
Thorley Walters Thorley Walters ... The Colleague
Colin Jeavons ... Tucker
Raymond Mason Raymond Mason ... Landlord
Charles Kinross Charles Kinross ... Tenant
Neville Barber Neville Barber ... First Client
Robin Askwith ... Office Boy
Hope Jackman Hope Jackman ... Hilda - Tealady
John Watson John Watson ... Doctor
Christine Dingle Christine Dingle ... Patient
Rosalind Elliot Rosalind Elliot ... Miss Brown - Secretary
Tony Parkin Tony Parkin ... Dickinson - Clerk


Updated to 1970s London, this faithful adaptation of Herman Melville's classic follows a young accounting clerk rebelling against his employer by responding to demands to do work by saying, "I prefer not to." This is carried on ad absurdum until the office is in chaos because the other employees must do Bartleby's work. His boss is unable to fire or help him and eventually has him placed in a mental hospital. Paul Scofield (A Man for All Seasons), John McEnery (The Duellists) and Thorley Walters (TV's "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy") star in this impeccably mounted study of employment, insanity, and the rigors of everyday life from one of literature's most acclaimed geniuses. Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis




PG | See all certifications »






Release Date:

17 May 1973 (Hungary) See more »

Also Known As:

O apokliros See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Pantheon Film Productions See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:



Color (Eastmancolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


The church steeple that can be seen through Bartleby's office window is that of St. Vedast alias Foster in the City of London. See more »


The Accountant: Now, Bartleby, sit down. I want to check procedures for the Prebble Account and verify our results so far. With the three of us, it will be faster.
Bartleby: I don't feel I can. Just at the moment.
[he exits]
The Accountant: [the Accountant and Tucker have followed Bartleby to his office] What on Earth do you mean by this?
Bartleby: I would prefer not to say.
The Accountant: Prefer not to. What do you do mean, you prefer not to? Are you refusing to cooperate?
Bartleby: I prefer not to.
Bartleby: But. look here; this is normal practice, it's an excellent way to save ...
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Version of Bartleby (1976) See more »

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User Reviews

Misguided update of Melville classic
6 November 1999 | by kenmoreSee all my reviews

A noble effort, I guess, but ultimately a poor one. Before seeing this film, I felt "Bartleby, The Scrivener" was unfilmable. After seeing it, I still do. Unfortunately, I think only those who have read the story will understand what is going on, and they will be upset at the film's needless revisions (updating from 1850 to 1970, moving from New York to London). Even the superb talents of Paul Scofield can't salvage what looks to me like a well meaning but misguided effort to film Melville's metaphysical classic.

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