The Birthday Party (1968) - Rotten Tomatoes

The Birthday Party (1968)





Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

The Birthday Party Photos

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 is taken away by them to parts unknown. The Birthday Party ends with 30 seconds of a totally blank screen. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi
Comedy , Drama , Mystery & Suspense
Directed By:
Written By:
In Theaters:


Robert Shaw
as Stanley Weber
Patrick Magee
as Shamus McCann
Dandy Nichols
as Meg Bowles
Sydney Tafler
as Nat Goldberg
Moultrie Kelsall
as Petey Bowles

Critic Reviews for The Birthday Party

All Critics (3) | Top Critics (1)

I couldn't resist its strangeness.

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

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.
Walter M.

Super Reviewer

Harold Pinter's brilliant early film, The Birthday Party, is one of his best efforts, and perhaps, with The Homecoming, the pinnacle of the Theater of the Absurd. Performances across the board are outstanding, with Robert Shaw outdoing himself as Stanley Weber. Moultrie Keisall as Petey is excellent but understated, and his final words really put the cherry on the birthday cake. (sorry for the pun). Top marks, 5 stars, classic.

Steve O
Steve O

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.

Amos Dillman
Amos Dillman

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