The Birthday Party - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

The Birthday Party Reviews

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April 14, 2017
This is a glacially paced, stagy, and confusing mess of a film.
Harlequin68
Super Reviewer
½ November 28, 2013
"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.
½ November 9, 2012
The earliest and most impenetrable of Friedkin's play adaptations, and surprisingly one of his very most visually distinctive films. Worth mentioning is the rare treat of seeing such a young Robert Shaw playing such a different role than one would expect from the guy who played Quint and Henry VIII. Pinter admirers are more likely to find it accessible, but like me who are unaccustomed to such extremely ambiguous, if not downright contradictory, if even existent exposition will simply be subjected to an exhilaratingly unnerving experience.
September 21, 2012
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.
½ April 20, 2011
Helped a lot to understand the play by Harold Pinter more deeply :)
Do not expect a normal plot... it belongs to the so-called "Theatre of Absurd", so you may never know what is going on and many interpretations are possible!
January 20, 2011
An early Friedkin movie, all set in a quaint british B & B and based on a play by Harold Pinter. Amazing performances all round as long-staying guest Robert Shaw gets emotionally terrorized by two gentlemen in the front room.
mirabella1996
Super Reviewer
January 7, 2010
This is an excellent screen version of the fabulously menacing play by Harold Pinter.
July 18, 2009
netsi kecho happy birtday ok now you are big gerl
½ March 9, 2009
Superb comedy in the banality of dialogue - its a bit of a weird play, not sure what its about, but that might be the point ... it seems to be about paranoia, but that might be me being paranoid
½ March 3, 2008
Good acting does not a good movie make.

Personal enjoyment: 4/10
As a film: 6/10
½ March 3, 2008
Good acting does not a good movie make.

Personal enjoyment: 4/10
As a film: 6/10
½ December 17, 2007
strange movie. absurd and really uncomfortable to watch.
November 9, 2007
I can't say that Pinter adapts so well to film. There is an absurdist element to this play which better suits the stage. Nevertheless, Robert Shaw is a good choice for the lead.
½ September 23, 2007
Very Good adaptation of Harold Pinter's play. An overlooked gem with a great turn from Robert Shaw in the lead role. Little bit talky but still fascinating. Very weird part from Patrick Macnee also.
December 11, 2006
i would like to see this
November 21, 2006
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.
November 20, 2006
Except Amos didn't even watch it really...
½ August 30, 2006
Brilliant version of a modern-classic play by the great Harold Pinter. All of the cast shine, but Shaw and Nichols stand out. Worth a watch, but especially for those who know their Pinter.
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