|THE BIRTHDAY PARTY (director/writer: William Friedkin; screenwriter: Harold Pinter/play by Pinter; cinematographer: Denys Coop; editor: Tony Gibbs; cast: Robert Shaw (Stanley), Patrick McGee (McCann), Dandy Nichols (Meg Bowles ), Sydney Tafler (Goldberg), Moultrie Kelsall (Petey), Helen Fraser (Lulu); Runtime: 123; MPAA Rating: G; producers: Max Rosenberg/Milton Subotsky; Palomar; 1968-UK)|
|"I couldn't resist its
by Dennis Schwartz
Pinter's absurdist black comedy play is adapted by
him to the screen. Director William Friedkin ("The
Boys in the Band"/"The Exorcist"/"Cruising"), in his
second film, does a nice job enriching the plotless bizarre
film with detail and gets some great performances from
supporting actors Sydney Tafler and Dandy Nichols.
Only problem I had, was I thought it was too long.
non-conformist lost soul Stanley, who might have been
a gangster or a concert pianist, is a bum-looking
frightened lodger at a rundown Brit seaside boarding
house, run by Meg and Petey Bowles (Dandy
Nichols & Moultrie
Stanley has been living there for a year. Suddenly two
strangers, sent by a crime boss named Monty, an Irish
goon named McCann (Patrick McGee)
and a gabby Jew named Goldberg (Sydney
Tafler), menace Stanley. Eventually
they take him away after they give him a birthday
party on a day which he says is not his birthday. The
neighbor Lulu (Helen Fraser)
is the only invited guest.
The work is more theater friendly than cinema. The talky film is a study in unreality, or how difficult it is to run away from your past even if it's forgotten. I couldn't resist its strangeness.
REVIEWED ON 7/4/2015 GRADE: B+
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
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