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A Day in the Death of Joe Egg (1972)

R | | Comedy, Drama | 4 June 1972 (USA)
3:08 | Trailer
A couple uses extremely black comedy to survive taking care of a daughter who is nearly completely brain dead. They take turns doing the daughter's voice and stare into the eyes of death ... See full summary »


Peter Medak


Peter Nichols (play), Peter Nichols (screenplay)
3 nominations. See more awards »





Complete credited cast:
Alan Bates ... Bri
Janet Suzman ... Sheila
Peter Bowles ... Freddie
Sheila Gish ... Pam
Joan Hickson ... Grace
Elizabeth Robillard Elizabeth Robillard ... Jo
Murray Melvin ... Doctor
Fanny Carby Fanny Carby ... Nun
Constance Chapman ... Moonrocket Lady
Elizabeth Tyrrell Elizabeth Tyrrell ... Midwife


A couple uses extremely black comedy to survive taking care of a daughter who is nearly completely brain dead. They take turns doing the daughter's voice and stare into the eyes of death and emotional trauma with a humor that hides their pain. Written by John Vogel <jlvogel@comcast.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


The award-winning play is now on the screen


Comedy | Drama


R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »

Did You Know?


The source stage play was re-adapted as the television movie, A Day in the Death of Joe Egg (2002). See more »


Bri: [to his class] I'm going to the staff room now to get my coat and you will be as quiet as mice. No fish till I get back.
See more »


Remade as A Day in the Death of Joe Egg (2002) See more »

User Reviews

Acting is brilliant, yet the conception and characters leave us on the outside looking in...
8 April 2009 | by moonspinner55See all my reviews

Peter Nichols adapted his own play for the screen, regarding the timeless subject of how human beings--as married people and parents--deal with the difficulties of raising a handicapped child. Alan Bates and Janet Suzman are marvelous as the joshing twosome in Bristol who appear to be on the same page when it comes to spastic daughter Jo, who can't walk or talk in her semi-vegetative state. But, as Nichols takes us back into the couple's past, we see that husband Bates never held out much hope that Jo would get any better, while his spouse--realistic and yet optimistic--clings to the belief that one day there will be signs of life (and that it is her duty to keep this belief alive). Marvelously literate and well-acted, the film-version can't escape staginess; director Peter Medak is occasionally nimble, but he doesn't do a warm-up on this scenario for our benefit, and the downbeat nature of the film's theme coupled with the gloomy look can be wearing. Cinematographer Ken Hodges does capture some great, moody scenes (especially Bates' flight-of-fancy on the beach when first discovering his baby daughter might be seriously troubled). However, the second-act conversation with visiting friends discussing the merits of putting the child into a nursing home isn't as pointed as it should be (and as it needs to be, since it mirrors the dialogue in the final scenes). The heady climax really needs to be seen twice, as the tone suddenly shifts into extremely personal drama--and one is caught unprepared for its impact. Certainly worthwhile for patient viewers willing to let this story unfold. It is supposed to be a thought-provoking piece--and at this it succeeds very well--but I only wish we were more emotionally invested in the main characters. Bates and Suzman both do superlative work, yet the flashbacks, monologues, and hearty ribbing don't reveal as much as intimate conversation would, and the decisions which are made are troubling but chilly. **1/2 from ****

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Release Date:

4 June 1972 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Joe Egg See more »

Filming Locations:

Weston-super-Mare, UK See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Domino See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:



Color (Eastmancolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.78 : 1
See full technical specs »

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