Butley (1974)





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Movie Info

Alan Bates is the whole show in this American Film Theater presentation of the London stage success by Simon Gray, brought to the screen by Harold Pinter, the famed British playwright in his film-directing debut. Bates is an embittered English teacher who, in one day, loses his wife to another teacher, discovers his male lover has left him for another man, and learns that a long-in-the-works manuscript by a female colleague that Butley has continually disparaged through the years has been accepted for publication -- while his own project lies dormant and unfinished.
Art House & International , Classics , Drama
Directed By:
Written By:
In Theaters:
American Film Theatre

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Alan Bates
as Ben Butley
Jessica Tandy
as Edna Shaft
Richard O'Callaghan
as Joey Keyston
Susan Engel
as Anne Butley
Michael Byrne
as Reg Nuttall
Georgina Hale
as Miss Heasman
Cohn Haigh
as Male Student
Simon Rouse
as Mr. Gardner
Oliver Maguire
as Train Passenger
Colin Haigh
as Male Student
Darien Angadi
as Male Student
Susan Wooldridge
as Female Student
Lindsay Ingram
as Female Student
Patti Love
as Female Student
Belinda Low
as Female Student
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Critic Reviews for Butley

All Critics (3) | Top Critics (1)

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November 7, 2005

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October 12, 2005

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Full Review… | June 17, 2005
Chicago Sun-Times
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Butley

Stagy production would be nothing without the great performance given by Alan Bates.

jay nixon
jay nixon

Super Reviewer


In the beginning, there is the cough, as English professor Ben Butley(Alan Bates) has trouble waking up in the morning and cuts himself shaving. He barely makes the tube train, somehow finding a seat where he can smoke and read, which takes him to his university office which he shares with Joey Keyston(Richard O'Callaghan) along with a bed. I should have known there was something amiss with "Butley" from the opening scene that goes on too long. And if you think that is bad, then the rest of this intermittently witty movie which is set almost exclusively on one set in one running scene is even worse, and somewhat haphazardly directed to boot.(This is one of the American Film Theatre series from the 1970's when the default setting for depicting gay men was bitchy.) As a heavy drinker(it's not the kidneys he should be concerned with...), Butley does slip out down to the pub at one point which is a perfect opportunity for the audience to slip out for a pint or an ice cream sandwich. And as good a performance as Alan Bates gives, it still feels like being trapped in a confined space with a very unpleasant man, giving us a perfect feel for what Joey's life is like on a daily basis. In fact, Butley tries to avoid responsibility whenever possible, playing hide and seek with Carol Heasman(Georgina Hale), a prospective tutorial student, which interrupts him taking stock of the glorious mess of his life in this glorious mess of a movie.

Walter M.
Walter M.

Super Reviewer

Alan Bates' stage triumph in Simon Gray's Butley has been superbly recreated on the screen, with the added excellence of Harold Pinter's topnotch film directorial debut.

Lee Mayo
Lee Mayo

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