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Educating Rita (1983)

PG | | Comedy, Drama | 28 October 1983 (USA)
In Liverpool, twenty-seven-year-old hairdresser Rita (Dame Julie Walters) decides to complete her basic education before having children, as desired by her husband Denny (Malcolm Douglas). ... See full summary »

Director:

Lewis Gilbert

Writers:

Willy Russell (screenplay), Willy Russell (stage play)
Nominated for 3 Oscars. Another 6 wins & 5 nominations. See more awards »

Photos

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Michael Caine ... Dr. Frank Bryant
Julie Walters ... Rita
Michael Williams ... Brian
Maureen Lipman ... Trish
Jeananne Crowley Jeananne Crowley ... Julia
Malcolm Douglas ... Denny
Godfrey Quigley ... Rita's Father
Dearbhla Molloy ... Elaine
Patrick Daly Patrick Daly ... Bursar (as Pat Daly)
Kim Fortune Kim Fortune ... Collins
Philip Hurd-Wood ... Tiger (as Philip Hurdwood)
Hilary Reynolds Hilary Reynolds ... Lesley
Jack Walsh ... Price
Christopher Casson Christopher Casson ... Professor
Rosamund Burton Rosamund Burton ... Denise
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Storyline

In Liverpool, twenty-seven-year-old hairdresser Rita (Dame Julie Walters) decides to complete her basic education before having children, as desired by her husband Denny (Malcolm Douglas). She joins a literature course in an open university and is tutored by the middle-aged Dr. Frank Bryant (Sir Michael Caine), an alcoholic and debauched professor from the upper-class, whose life has left him emotionally drained, without self-esteem. Frank lives with Julia (Jeananne Crowley), who's also a professor, and has a loveless marriage. Julia has a love affair with Dean Brian (Michael Williams). Rita's humor and determination to improve herself is contagious. She gives motivation to Frank, who helps prepare her for the exams to join the university, and be able to leave Denny. Will she succeed in the exams? Written by Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

Raves For Rita! See more »

Genres:

Comedy | Drama

Certificate:

PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

UK

Language:

English

Release Date:

28 October 1983 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Educando a Rita See more »

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Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$73,518, 25 September 1983

Gross USA:

$14,648,076

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$14,648,076
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Acorn Pictures See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

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

Trivia

The movie was nominated for three Academy Awards, including Best Actor (Sir Michael Caine), Best Actress (Dame Julie Walters), and Best Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium (Willy Russell), but the movie failed to win an award in any category. See more »

Goofs

When the VW van with students in it approaches Rita, the side door is wide open but the back door is not. As the van pulls away, the back door is now flipped up. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
[Frank walks on campus and addresses some students]
Dr. Frank Bryant: Good afternoon.
See more »

Alternate Versions

In a version screened on British TV in the '80s and '90s, Frank tells the imaginary Morgan to 'p*** off', not 'f*** off'; Michael Caine's voice is quite badly dubbed. See more »

Connections

Referenced in The Goldbergs: Han Ukkah Solo (2016) See more »

Soundtracks

Wedding March
(uncredited)
Written by Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Shaw would be proud.
16 April 2006 | by budmasseySee all my reviews

What delights me most about this movie is that in early 2006 it finally came out on DVD. There is a minor glitch in the establishing scene at the beginning, but to see Rita once again in widescreen is almost like seeing it for the very first time.

Educating Rita is one of many re-tellings of Shaw's Pygmalion, itself based on a Greek myth, so the story is nothing new. Rita, as so many great British films, is based on a play, in this case by Willie Russell, who also collaborated with director Lewis Gilbert, who, in addition to directing several Bond features, also directed Michael Caine in his Oscar nominated title role in Alfie, on the delightful Shirley Valentine, cast in a similar vein. It would be easy to think of Rita as My Fair Lady without the Marne Nixon voice overs, but that would be, as a classmate of Rita's puts it, facile.

The combination of Michale Caine and Julie Walters is pure magic. Unlike Dudley Moore's lovable drunk, Caine's Frank Bryant is a drunk that is difficult to love, which makes him far more interesting. He wallows, not in self pity, which would be disgusting, but in the infinitely sadder depths of self acceptance and resignation to shortcomings. He is a failed drunken poet who has lost the capacity to feel his own life.

Enter Rita, a hairdresser who wants to learn literary criticism, but more importantly, learn a way out of a life that she feels all too well. From his jaundiced perspective, Frank fears that educating Rita would transform her into just another one of the lifeless women that litter his life, but Rita will not be denied. Gradually, through voracious consumption of the Canon of Western Literature, Rita learns what she believes to be a better song to sing.

But it's not that simple. Rita finds that people, even educated people, in the end, have only themselves to cling to, and Shaw, Blake, Ibsen and Chekov may help fill up the empty moments, but they can't take away the emptiness itself. What does Rita want? Frank? A baby? Her ex-husband? No. What Rita wants is choices, and the freedom to choose among them for herself, and getting there is warm and moving drama that elevates Educating Rita among the absolute best of its era and genre.

David Hentschel's synthesized soundtrack is absolutely wonderful. It is by now so obviously from another era that it allows you to be drawn even more into the film, giving it a more timeless than dated feel. The supporting cast is wonderful, including Michael Williams, who, aside from being Mr. Judi Densch for the last thirty years of his life, also received a Papal knighthood, and classically renowned actress Maureen Lipman who was later awarded a C.B.E. for her work in British theatre.

Ultimately, however, it is the sheer magic of Caine and Walters, no less so than with Harrison and Hepburn in My Fair Lady, that gives Rita the boundless charm, wit, and passion that have made it one of my favorite films of all time.


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