In a dreary North London flat, the site of perpetual psychological warfare, a philosophy professor visits his family after a nine-year absence, and introduces the four men, father, uncle, and two brothers, to his wife.
Set in the 1880s, the story of how, during a creative dry spell, the partnership of the legendary musical/theatrical writers Gilbert and Sullivan almost dissolves, before they turn it all around and write the Mikado.
Max is a surly pensioner who alternately venerates and vilifies his dead wife. Sam, his brother, is a supercilious chauffeur. Lenny is a smiling, snake-like pimp. Joey is a thick-witted, would-be boxer. These four men live together in a North London flat, the site of their perpetual sadomasochistic battle of words and sometimes physical violence. And then after nine years, Max's third son, Teddy, a philosophy professor living in California, comes back home for a visit. He brings his wife, Ruth. She is immediately drawn in to the family's ugly psychological games and quickly proves a worthy opponent. Soon, the game involves both of Teddy's brothers taking extreme liberties with Ruth, as the coiled Teddy obstinately refuses to spoil the malicious fun by objecting.Written by
Sir Ian Holm won the 1967 Tony Award (New York City) for Supporting or Featured Actor in a Drama for "The Homecoming" as Lenny, and reprised the role in this movie. See more »
You go and ask my customers! I'm the only one they ever ask for.
What do the other drivers do, sleep all day?
I can only drive one car. They can't all have me at the same time.
Anyone could have you at the same time. You'd bend over for half a dollar on Blackfriars Bridge.
For two bob and a toffee apple.
He's insulting me. He's insulting his brother. I'm driving a man to Hampton Court at four forty-five.
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As the above comments reveal, this is a wonderful, deeply disturbing, but also riotously comic play. I did it for English 'A' level which was pure madness - difficult enough getting my head round it at my now considerably more advanced age. Having seen Ian Holm give a riveting performance in London as Max, I really leapt at the chance to see this as the local arts cinema and it was gripping. Ian Holm was fantastic, with more than a touch of the Del Boy about him (re-watch the play and see its Only Fools and Horses connections- the grotty flat, the brother-uncle-father dynamic, the dead worshipped prostitute mother etc) and Teddy was played with a wonderful swagger. The scene where all four of them stand in a corridor lighting their cigars was comic and tragic and menacing in the best way. But I really wonder how cinematic any of this was? You have the feeling of watching theatrical performance preserved in aspic rather than a film. The scene outside the flat was contrived and unnecessary and other than that pretty much all the action took place in one room. I feel we lost rather than gained from the live experience of watching a play. But, not having been alive when this film was made, it does mean I get to get a glimpse of a towering production of an amazing play. And that can't be a bad thing.
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