7.2/10
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6 user 12 critic

Butley (1974)

An English professor finds his life crumbling around him.

Director:

Harold Pinter

Writers:

Simon Gray (play), Simon Gray (screenplay)
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Cast

Cast overview:
Alan Bates ... Ben Butley
Jessica Tandy ... Edna Shaft
Georgina Hale ... Carol Heasman
Michael Byrne ... Reg Nuttall
Susan Engel ... Anne Butley
Simon Rouse ... Gardner
Richard O'Callaghan Richard O'Callaghan ... Joey Keyston
Oliver Maguire Oliver Maguire ... Man in the Tube
Darien Angadi Darien Angadi ... First Student
Colin Haigh Colin Haigh ... Second Student
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Storyline

A day in the life of Ben Butley. But definitely not a day to remember for this T.S. Eliot scholar at the University of London! Let's take for example Anne, his already estranged wife: today is the day she has chosen to tell him she is leaving him for good. And for a man Butley despises into the bargain! And what about Joey Kingston, whose close friendship Ben is losing, maybe forever today...? Decidedly, all the odds are against him. Will Butley, the bitter misanthropist, the unrepentant alcoholic, the teacher who bullies his students, his friends and his colleagues - in other words the self-destructive nihilist -, survive this horrible day? Written by Guy Bellinger

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Butley...perfectly poised on the losing end of a one-on-one relationship. See more »

Genres:

Drama | Romance

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

UK | Canada | USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

April 1976 (UK) See more »

Also Known As:

Simon Gray's Butley See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color (Eastmancolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The original Broadway production of "Butley" written by Simon Gray opened at the Morosco Theater in New York on October 31, 1972, ran for 135 performances and was nominated for the 1973 Tony Award for the Best Play. Alan Bates recreated his 1973 Tony Award winning performance Best Actor in Play in this filmed production based on the Simon Gray play and on the Simon Gray screenplay. See more »

Quotes

Ben Butley: You know how it exhausts me to teach books I haven't read.
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User Reviews

 
Bates at his best
30 December 2004 | by B24See all my reviews

The late Alan Bates had many "bests" (if one may be permitted to say so)because of the constant intensity he brought to every role. He made acting something of a physical sport. In this case, his neurotic Butley uses language as a fencer's epee, yielding nothing to putative antagonists in the tight confines of an English department office in a major university as the camera follows him doggedly thrusting and parrying without pause. I especially liked the puns and double entendres (obviously). This sort of thing is not for everyone, of course, and I do not blame the viewer who is easily bored by such verbal jousting.

Did I mention the superb camera work? It is a tour de force to take a stage play like this one and make it come alive on film. Great acting and great direction would be lost without due attention to the medium, and this one has it par excellence. As depressing as the theme may be, and as unlikeable the fictional characters, this production succeeds in demonstrating just how powerful a film can be in spite of itself. It reminded me instantly of "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf" in that regard. And it is uncanny in its recognition of all the unhappy details found in any college English department office.

The nicest touch, of course, was in making Butley a T. S. Eliot specialist, with a photo of the lugubrious poet pinned to the wall. Much comic relief if one knows how to spot it.


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