The Entertainer is slice of history, and is an ably presented filming of the John Osborne play. Though the story's political allegory is now old and faded itself - Archie Rice/Lawerence Olivier's pathetic floundering music hall and career, which stands in for a fading, bankrupt post-WWII Britain ,what remains is still worth seeing.
This is a kitchen sink family drama with terrific seedy English seaside and sleazy theater atmosphere. Tony Richardson's early career showed great promise, and this film is a beautiful example of his talents. It contains Sir Larry's most heartfelt and naturalistic peformance on film and it's too bad that he didn't have more of these type of interior, heartfelt performances on film, the grandiose Shakespearan dramas aside.
The cast includes a who's who of future British film stars,as Archie's three grown kids - Alan Bates, Albert FInney and Joan Plowright, all in their first film appearances. Robert Livsey and Brenda de Banzie as Archie's elegant music hall dad and his second wife, an alcoholic, are also wonderful.
For a Canadian, it's amusing that the panacea for the family's problems is to make a new life in Toronto, something that Archie resists till the end of the film after a whole load of tragedy has beaten him down.
Without the contemporary relevance of 1960, this is just a very good family drama with a top notch British cast, but no world shaking groundbreaker. The DVD transfer is crisp and looks fantastic.