EVERYTHING ABOUT A MOVIE?
|THE CARETAKER (aka: THE GUEST) (director: Clive Donner; screenwriter: from the play by Harold Pinter/Harold Pinter; cinematographer: Nicolas Roeg; editor: Fergus McDonell; music: Ron Grainer; cast: Donald Pleasence (Davies), Alan Bates (Mick), Robert Shaw (Aston); Runtime: 100; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Michael Birkett; Janus Films/BFI-PAL format on DVD; 1963-UK)|
a theater experience than a cinema one."
by Dennis Schwartz
a theater experience than a cinema one. Clive Donner
("What's New Pussycat"/"Luv"/"Alfred the Great")
directs by keeping Harold Pinter's 1960
three-character play, adapted by Pinter himself,
theatrical without broadening it to be more of a movie
experience. Nevertheless it features the three
greatest stage interpretations
of Pinter's characters. Alan Bates and Donald
Pleasence revise their stage roles, while Robert
Shaw is recruited for the movie. The plotless story, shot in
black-and-white serves as a brilliant actor's film.
soft-spoken Aston (Robert Shaw), treated with
electric-shock for his mental illness before his
hospital release, meets the scruffy elderly mentally
ill bum Mac Davies (Donald Pleasence)
outside a pub and invites the homeless man to stay the
night in his one-room attic apartment in a home. The
well-meaning Aston gives the bum, who uses the
assumed name of Bernard Jenkins, some money,
clothes, tobacco, a bed to sleep on and the next
morning suggests he stay on as caretaker until he
settles his business. Aston also tells of his ambition
to have a garden shed in the backyard. The
claustrophobic room is filled with a cluster of broken
household goods, that Aston tinkers with to no avail.
When the unemployed bum wishes to get comfortable
shoes to go to Sidcup and retrieve his identity
papers, he's disappointed that Aston's shoes are too
small. Meanwhile Aston's brother Mick (Alan Bates),
the builder home owner, arrives when Aston's out on an
errand and discovers the bum in the house. Mick acts
sadistic with the bum. Upon Aston's return, the bum is
caught between experiencing the different attitudes
the brothers have to him. Eventually Mick reveals he
would like to turn the dump into an uncluttered luxury
house after a massive clean-up.
magical dialogue digs out in a darkly comical manner
an enigmatic tale of how in the bleakest of times,
like in the middle of winter, three lost souls can
share their impossible dreams with others of trying to
find a better life for themselves. The gloomy pic
holds out a glimmer of hope that there's a bond of
humanity common to all that will help those in a time
of need who are worse off than others and that in the
name of humanity will treat everyone as brothers.
The pic was independently produced by celebrity and producer admirers of the play such as Richard Burton, Elizabeth Taylor, Leslie Caron, Peter Sellers, Peter Hall, Harry Saltzman, Peter Bridge and Noel Coward.
REVIEWED ON 5/9/2013 GRADE: A-
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
© ALL RIGHTS RESERVED DENNIS SCHWARTZ