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Wednesday, July 24, 2013

The Entertainer (1960)

Set in the 1950s in a dilapidated seaside resort on the coast of England, an aging music hall performer (Laurence Olivier) finds his personal and professional life slowly crumbling around him. He attempts to find solace in the arms of a young girl (Shirley Anne Field) but nothing goes right. Often referred to as one of the world's greatest actors, here Olivier shows why that appellation is justified. It's a richly detailed performance, so authentic that one can't loath the character since his own self loathing is so realized that we can afford some sympathy for the man. The John Osborne (based on his play) screenplay isn't all that it should be and it's very obvious at times but the director Tony Richardson knows that it's the performances that will push it forward. Magnificent as he is, Olivier's not the whole show. Roger Livesey, in his best role since LIFE AND DEATH OF COLONEL BLIMP, as Olivier's father is pretty terrific and there's solid support by Brenda De Banzie as his second wife and Joan Plowright (soon to become Mrs. Olivier) as his daughter. With Albert Finney, Alan Bates, Daniel Massey, Thora Hird, Miriam Karlin and Charles Gray.

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