Harold Pinter adapted his own three-character play for the screen, but made little attempt to broaden the canvas and its stage origins are barely disguised.
Harold Pinter adapted his own three-character play for the screen, but made little attempt to broaden the canvas and its stage origins are barely disguised.This production of The Caretaker, was financed by 10 prominent showbiz personalities, each of whom has a $14,000 stake in it, while the author, producer, director and three stars are all on deferment. Among its backers were stars, film producers and legit impresarios, including Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, Peter Sellers, Noel Coward, Harry Saltzman and Peter Bridge. Instead of using a conventional studio, the unit took over a house in a northeast London suburb, and that provides an ideal, shabby setting for Pinter’s offbeat theme. Basically, it’s a one-set play, and that made it a tough assignment for director Clive Donner. His fluent treatment, however, makes the most of the macabre verbal exchanges, and overcomes many of the static handicaps of the subject. The three characters are two brothers and a tramp. One of the brothers, a building worker, owns a house, but it is his brother who lives in it, though just in one room, cluttered with furniture from the remainder of the house. The tramp, homeless and unemployed, is invited to stay the night, and finds himself being tossed around like a shuttlecock, in favor with one brother, and out of favor with the other. Donald Pleasence’s standout performance as the tramp is the acting highlight, but he easily has the choicest role. Robert Shaw gives an intelligent study as the brother who offers the tramp shelter, while Alan Bates completes the stellar trio with another forceful portrayal.
Caretaker. Director Clive Donner; Producer Michael Birkett; Screenplay Harold Pinter; Camera Nicolas Roeg; Editor Fergus McDonell; Music Ron Grainer;; Art Director Reece Pemberton
(B&W) Extract of a review from 1964. Running time: 105 MIN.
Alan Bates Donald Pleasence Robert Shaw