|A DAY IN THE DEATH OF JOE EGG (director: Peter Medak; screenwriter: from the play by Peter Nichols/Peter Nichols; cinematographer: Ken Hodges; editor: Ray Lovejoy; music: Edward Elgar; cast: Alan Bates (Bri), Janet Suzman (Sheila), Peter Bowles (Freddie), Sheila Gish (Pam), Joan Hickson (Grace), Elizabeth Robillard (Jo), Murray Melvin (Doctor); Runtime: 106; MPAA Rating: R; producer: David Deutsch; Columbia; 1972-UK)|
|"Superb black comedy."
by Dennis Schwartz
superb black comedy is based on
Peter Nichols' London/Broadway stage hit. Nichols
also writes the hard-hitting screenplay. Director
Peter Medak ("The Odd Job"/"Sporting
Chance"/"The Ruling Class") directs with a good eye
for comedy despite all the drama's angst. The film
wrapped in 1970 but for some reason the studio didn't
release it until two years later.
about a Bristol, England, couple, the prankster
schoolteacher at a boy's school, Bri (Alan Bates), and
his homebody sexy amateur actress wife Sheila (Janet
Suzman), who have a problem at home they can't solve.
The loving couple are burdened with a spastic drooling
cerebral palsy 10-year-old daughter named
Josephine (Elizabeth Robillard ),
aka Joe Egg, who is a vegetable and requires constant
care. The weary couple are in limbo between supporting
their daughter's demanding needs and wishing she was
film's second half, the burdened couple are visited by
two ignorant but well-meaning friends, Freddie (Peter
Bowles) and his crude wife Pam (Sheila
Gish). Freddie is in Sheila's theater group and
is her lover. The suffering parents are forced to
suffer through an agonizing evening with their guests.
Meanwhile we have through flashbacks seen the
medically incompetent birth of Josephine and her
miserable life over the last ten years.
The result is an uncomfortable but provocative film about the fate of an unwanted helpless child. It's a glum film that's not for everyone. But it's easy to admire for its realism. The studio deserves kudos for bringing this theater production to the screen unspoiled and unsentimental. To lighten the heaviness and the talk of euthanasia, the featured frustrated couple act out cruel comical games. Also, there's a few fantasy sequences to lighten the tone. This is the real deal about life over abortion, which is why its unhappy ending might be hard to swallow for some viewers.
REVIEWED ON 3/14/2016 GRADE: B+
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
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