The Entertainer Reviews
Great to see Albert Finney and Alan Bates early in their careers looking very dashing.
SPOILER ALERT I get uncomfortable when a script doesn't tie-up loose ends, in this case how did granddad Billy Rice find out about Archie's plans to divorce Phoebe? I don't care that Jean doesn't admit her part in it but I just wished Archie had pondered how his father knew of his (Archie's) scheme to marry the young beach beauty (WE know). And we don't see Billy doing this, just arriving to visit the parents and we only get their vehement reaction through a one-sided phone conversation with Archie. This glossing over of important parts of the plot happens again when Frank brings the news of Mike's death and despite her anguish for a large part of the film, we are not really shown the mother's full reaction to her son's death. It leaves the film missing an emotional core and I was left with only a distant feeling towards the characters.
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.