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The Dresser (1983)

PG | | Drama | 6 December 1983 (USA)
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2:42 | Trailer

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ON DISC
An effeminate personal assistant of a deteriorating veteran actor struggles to get him through a difficult performance of King Lear.

Director:

Peter Yates

Writers:

Ronald Harwood (screenplay), Ronald Harwood (based on a play by)
Reviews
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 Zena Walker ... Her Ladyship
Eileen Atkins ... Madge
Michael Gough ... Frank Carrington
Cathryn Harrison ... Irene
Betty Marsden Betty Marsden ... Violet Manning
Sheila Reid Sheila Reid ... Lydia Gibson
Lockwood West 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, is devoted to the brilliant but tyrannical head of the company. He struggles to support the deteriorating star 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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Details

Country:

UK

Language:

English

Release Date:

6 December 1983 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

El vestidor See more »

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Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$43,132, 11 December 1983, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$5,310,748
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color (Rankcolor)

Aspect Ratio:

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

Trivia

In the film the performance of "King Lear" that Sir (Albert Finney) prepares for and performs is Sir's 227th time playing Lear. 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

[repeated line]
Norman: I had a friend...
See more »

Connections

Remade as The Dresser (2015) See more »

Soundtracks

A Nice Cup of Tea
(uncredited)
Lyrics by A.P. Herbert and music by Henry Sullivan
Sung by Tom Courtenay (as Norman)
See more »

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User Reviews

 
tour de force theatre film
19 March 2005 | by didi-5See all my reviews

'The Dresser' is one of those films which are so perfect you really struggle to find something not to like about them. Written by Ronald Harwood (himself a former dresser to the legendary Donald Wolfit), it sparkles with energy and true love of life behind the footlights.

As 'Sir', the overbearing actor and main focus of the play, Albert Finney is a joy to watch - whether complaining about the lack of a storm during the 'blow, winds ...' bit of 'King Lear' or chatting to his faithful stage manager, Madge (Eileen Atkins, good as ever) about the old times. As Norman, his camp dresser, Tom Courtenay gives a fabulous performance, wiggling around at the beck and call of 'Lear', collecting a bottle to go at the pub, or bitchily disparaging the former Fool, Mr Davenport-Scott (often mentioned, but never seen!).

In an engaging support cast, there's Edward Fox as Oxenby (a typical arrogant second lead), Zena Walker as her Ladyship, Lockwood West as the replacement Fool, and many others.

This film has great energy, bringing with it some of the greasepaint of its stage origins, it is true, but being so well-acted you don't notice. Very well done indeed.


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