6.9/10
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6 user 15 critic

Butley (1974)

R | | Drama, Romance | April 1976 (UK)
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 ... 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, 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:

Brilliant! Bloodshot! Bitchy! See more »

Genres:

Drama | Romance

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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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 City on October 31, 1972, ran for one hundred thirty-five performances, and was nominated for the 1973 Tony Award for the Best Play. Sir Alan Bates re-created his 1973 Tony Award winning performance Best Actor in Play in this filmed production based on the Simon Gray play and 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

 
10/10
9 October 2004 | by desperatelivingSee all my reviews

A movie like this works as a small-setting exercise in actor virtuosity -- Bates grabs the individual words, twirls them around, and pitches them at his enemies with a high-pitched, womanly cackle -- and it works brilliantly on that level. But it also works on a larger level of a man who uses words as an evasive tool. Of course no one really talks like this, no one is this witty, but more than just entertaining dialogue (and some of it is very funny) the writing does serve an emotional purpose. Bates' performance, as a professor who avoids his contemporaries and who tries to dig into the mind of his young male lover, is incredibly good; it's like he's tap-dancing on top of himself with the exuberant joy of performance. And I loved the smart, youthful, innocent-patient tenderness in O' Callaghan's performance as the lover he shares an office with (where the majority of the film takes place).

Butley the man can't quite be explained, even though certain facets of his personality are obvious -- he's coated in irony, yet that can't hide his failings: he's jealous of the woman who's getting published while he's not, he can't stand students who just want to learn, and he's resentful of the man stealing his boyfriend from him. But yet he desperately goes chasing after people down the hall, just to get the last word in; he almost literally hangs off the doorknob while various characters come into his office; he screeches at the top of his lungs just to see if his leaving visitor will stop and come back. Butley does so often talk in the false hypothetical -- that type of grandstanding where he mentions something abstractly that specifically refers to someone -- that at times it's difficult to pinpoint who, exactly, he's referring to. (When he talks to Reg, the man stealing his boyfriend from him, does he use words like "queer" and "fairy" intending to mock himself to shock Reg, or to mock Reg in the guise of innocently questioning him?) While I didn't quite catch all the literary references -- just about the only drawback for me -- this is one of the most satisfying movies I've seen about the handling of a dying relationship. 10/10


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Details

Country:

UK | Canada | USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

April 1976 (UK) See more »

Also Known As:

Butley See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color (Eastmancolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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