There was a bit of a hassle over [the release of] The Entertainer what with arguments with the censor, the film having to be re-dubbed and cut from 104 to 96 minutes, and held over for three months before its West End showing. This version of John Osborne's play is raw, but vital stuff, which you'll either like or loathe.

There was a bit of a hassle over [the release of] The Entertainer what with arguments with the censor, the film having to be re-dubbed and cut from 104 to 96 minutes, and held over for three months before its West End showing. This version of John Osborne’s play is raw, but vital stuff, which you’ll either like or loathe.

The yarn is mainly a seedy character study of a broken-down, disillusioned vaude artiste with more optimism than talent, and of the various members of his family and their reactions to his problems. So it depends mainly on the thesping and the direction.

Tony Richardson, the director, makes several mistakes. But he has a sharp perception of camera angles, stimulates some good performances and, particularly, whips up an excellent atmosphere of a smallish British seaside resort.

Mainly, the interest is held by the acting and here there is a lot to praise, if some that may be condemned. The stage sequences in which the third-rate comedian, Archie Rice (Laurence Olivier), has to put over some tatty material in a broken down show, does not come over as effectively as it did on the stage. He is far happier in other sequences. The way he allows his sleazy facade to slip by a twist of the mouth, a throwaway line or a look in the eyes is quite brilliant.

Joan Plowright brings warmth and intelligence to the role of the loyal daughter while Roger Livesey, as Olivier’s father, is sympathetic and completely believable. Brenda de Banzie’s role, as Olivier’s wife, is at times irritating.

1960: Nomination: Best Actor (Laurence Olivier)

The Entertainer

UK

Production

Woodfall/Bryanston. Director Tony Richardson; Producer Henry Saltzman; Screenplay John Osborne, Nigel Kneale; Camera Oswald Morris; Editor Alan Osbiston; Music John Addison

Crew

(B&W) Available on VHS, DVD. Extract of a review from 1960. Running time: 96 MIN.

With

Laurence Olivier Brenda de Banzie Joan Plowright Roger Livesey Alan Bates Albert Finney
Follow @Variety on Twitter for breaking news, reviews and more