Personal assistant Norman struggles to get deteriorating veteran actor Sir through a difficult performance of King Lear.

Director:

Peter Yates

Writers:

Ronald Harwood (screenplay), Ronald Harwood (based on a play by)
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Nominated for 5 Oscars. Another 5 wins & 12 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Albert Finney ... Sir
Tom Courtenay ... Norman
Edward Fox ... Oxenby
Zena Walker ... Her Ladyship
Eileen Atkins ... Madge
Michael Gough ... Frank Carrington
Cathryn Harrison ... Irene
Betty Marsden Betty Marsden ... Violet Manning
Sheila Reid ... Lydia Gibson
Lockwood West ... Geoffrey Thornton
Donald Eccles ... Mr. Godstone
Llewellyn Rees Llewellyn Rees ... Horace Brown
Guy Manning Guy Manning ... Benton
Anne Blackman Anne Blackman ... Beryl (as Anne Mannion)
Kevin Stoney ... C. Rivers Lane
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Storyline

In a touring Shakespearean theater group, a backstage hand, the dresser, Norman (Sir Tom Courtenay), is devoted to the brilliant but tyrannical head of the company. He struggles to support deteriorating star Sir (Albert Finney) as the company struggles to carry on during the London blitz. The pathos of his backstage efforts rival the pathos in the story of Lear and the Fool that is being presented on-stage, as the situation comes to a crisis. Written by xenophil

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

What happens backstage is always true drama. And often pure comedy.

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

PG | See all certifications »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Producer and Director Peter Yates felt passionately about this movie. Yates said: "If I can make a film which will get more people to go to the theatre, I will feel I have achieved something. I don't think there has ever been a film which shows just a piece of the theatre's tradition and presents it in an attractive and palatable way. I hope with 'The Dresser' we've changed that." See more »

Goofs

After Sir and Norman leave the marketplace, they're passed by a Routemaster bus. These buses were first used in London in 1954, and weren't used outside London until the 1970's. See more »

Quotes

Sir: Let me rest, Norman. You must stop questioning me. Let me rest. Don't leave me until I'm asleep. Don't leave me alone. I'm a spent force. My days are numbered... Numbered.
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Connections

Featured in The 56th Annual Academy Awards (1984) See more »

Soundtracks

(We're Going To Hang Out) The Washing the Siegfried Line
(uncredited)
Music by Michael Carr
Lyrics by Jimmy Kennedy
Sung by Tom Courtenay (as Norman)
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User Reviews

 
The Dresser
30 May 2012 | by lasttimeisawSee all my reviews

Adapted by a 1981 Broadway sensation, its film counterpart is a hidden treasure of its time (although it achieved 5 nominations in the Oscar including BEST PICTURE, BEST DIRECTOR, BEST ACTORX2 and BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY) but has been rarely mentioned and seen by a younger generation, I have no idea of its existence until recently. I feel kind of cherished to have a chance to watch this UK production since the play-in-a-play structure generally is my cup of tea.

Then it proves that this is an exceedingly diverting film from the late director Peter Yates even though the quintessence of pleasure may lie in Finney and Courtenay's crack two-hander, which is beyond any thespian methods, two utterly gallant performances brilliantly deliver every tiny little nuance and never descend into a stasis of tedious affectation. Theatrical adaption has always been an impeccable showcase for actors. A copybook triumph from both Finney and Courtney. The King Lear play in the film proffers a tour-de-force stage for Finney's expertise and his overpowering sway is both intimidating and entertaining; as for Courtenay, whose character molding even merits more pluck due to the self-challenging devoutness. Which one I prefer, after some contemplative thinking, despite of Finney's pretty fierce endeavor, I will choose Courtenay, a lesser known actor but achieves a more startling reverberation.

Among the supporting roles, Eileen Atkins is managing to steal some flare from two leading players, she is so underrated and should be ranked alongside Maggie Smith, Judi Dench and Helen Mirren, among the most venerated names inside the so-called UK Dame coterie.

The film has set up a perfect mode for the contemporary play-goes-film trend, within some minimal usage of settings, the impact has been magnified in an index level to be seen by a much larger audience. The screenplay is the keystone here, that's why they're emerging in an inexhaustible tide which verifies that theatrical play is an endless fodder-provider for both awards-craving production companies and thespians.


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Details

Country:

UK

Language:

English

Release Date:

6 December 1983 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Dresser See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

GBP1,456,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$5,310,748

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$5,310,748
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Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color (Rankcolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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