The Birthday Party (1968)

The Birthday Party





Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

Movie Info

Harold Pinter's theatrical piece The Birthday Party was committed to celluloid in 1968 by future Exorcist director William Friedkin. Robert Shaw plays a boarder in a sleazy British seaside-resort rooming house. The landlady (Dandy Nichols) holds a cheerless birthday party for Shaw, which is invaded by a couple of shady characters named Goldberg (Sidney Tafler) and McCann (Patrick Magee). No one knows why they're there except for Shaw, who after being repeatedly humiliated by the despicable duo … More

Rating: G
Genre: Drama, Mystery & Suspense, Comedy
Directed By:
Written By: Harold Pinter
In Theaters:
On DVD: Jan 25, 2000



as Stanley Weber

as Shamus McCann

as Meg Bowles

as Nat Goldberg

as Petey Bowles

News & Interviews for The Birthday Party

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Critic Reviews for The Birthday Party

All Critics (7) | Top Critics (4)

Full Review… | October 23, 2004
Chicago Sun-Times
Top Critic

Full Review… | October 20, 2010
Top Critic

Full Review… | June 24, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

Full Review… | May 9, 2005
New York Times
Top Critic

I couldn't resist its strangeness.

Full Review… | July 7, 2015
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

July 15, 2005

Audience Reviews for The Birthday Party


"The Birthday Party" starts with Meg(Dandy Nichols) making a delicious looking breakfast of fried bread and corn flakes for her husband Pete(Moultrie Kelsall) who announces that a couple of men are interested in renting a room at their boarding house. Their only other tenant is Stanley(Robert Shaw) who has been living there for about a year. Enter McCann(Patrick Magee) and Goldberg(Sydney Tafler).

Ordinarily, I would complain when a movie like "The Birthday Party" does not expand on its stage origins, in this case from a play by Harold Pinter(who also wrote the screenplay) first produced in 1957, but here William Friedkin's claustrophobic direction works wonders in its mind games that play on the very nature of identity and could have also served as an influence on "The Prisoner." Of special interest are the funky visual effects used in the film's climax. And even as disheveled as he is in torn pyjamas, balding and overweight, Robert Shaw is still a force to be reckoned with. My only major complaint is that this movie could have been much more tightly edited, especially in the end.

Walter M.

Super Reviewer

I've never seen this movie and I probably never will, but I did see the play. Very, very odd. I understand the artistic and, apparently, philosophic trappings that the writer was going for, but as a simply entertaining tale...there is no tale. We don't know the tale. We saw the episode, but the descriptions of what happened eludes us. Every expository fact revealed in the piece is negated by another, and the viewer is left...confused. It might deserve a little more than 2 stars for its originality, yet I wouldn't reccomend this to anyone who likes to analyze. It's aggravating.

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