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||IMDB Rating: 7.2/10 from R votes
||Release: 01 Apr 1976 /
||Director: Harold Pinter,
||Synopsis: An English professor finds his life crumbling around him.
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The late Alan Bates had many "bests" (if one may be permitted to say
so)because of the constant intensity he brought to every role. He made
acting something of a physical sport. In this case, his neurotic Butley
uses language as a fencer's epee, yielding nothing to putative
antagonists in the tight confines of an English department office in a
major university as the camera follows him doggedly thrusting and
parrying without pause. I especially liked the puns and double
entendres (obviously). This sort of thing is not for everyone, of
course, and I do not blame the viewer who is easily bored by such
Did I mention the superb camera work? It is a tour de force to take a
stage play like this one and make it come alive on film. Great acting
and great direction would be lost without due attention to the medium,
and this one has it par excellence. As depressing as the theme may be,
and as unlikeable the fictional characters, this production succeeds in
demonstrating just how powerful a film can be in spite of itself. It
reminded me instantly of "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf" in that
regard. And it is uncanny in its recognition of all the unhappy details
found in any college English department office.
The nicest touch, of course, was in making Butley a T. S. Eliot
specialist, with a photo of the lugubrious poet pinned to the wall.
Much comic relief if one knows how to spot it.
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