Harold Pinter's comedy of menace has been transfered to the screen as an intellectual exercise in verbal gymnastics. Its study of unreality at a dingy British seaside resort is geared for thoughtful interpretation by alert audiences.

Harold Pinter’s comedy of menace has been transfered to the screen as an intellectual exercise in verbal gymnastics. Its study of unreality at a dingy British seaside resort is geared for thoughtful interpretation by alert audiences.

Robert Shaw is the pivotal force in The Birthday Party. He is the frightened lost soul, put upon as humanity’s non-conformist. It appears, and Shaw is least sure of all, that prior to vegetating the past year at Dandy Nichols’ boarding-house he may have been a piano player and a deserting member of a criminal organization. Sydney Tafler and cohort Patrick McGee are the organization men sent to get Shaw.

On these bones, Pinter fleshes out his philosophy of the complex fictions people employ. The completed film is thus an elaboration of the images of reality.

Tafler milks the role for laughs on whatever intellectual level, and comes off quite well.

Director William Friedkin has obvious respect for Pinter’s written word and left the film an observation on abstract ideas.

The Birthday Party

UK

Production

Continental/Palomar. Director William Friedkin; Producer Max Rosenberg, Milton Subotsky; Screenplay Harold Pinter; Camera Denys Coop; Editor Tony Gibbs

Crew

(Color) Available on VHS. Extract of a review from 1968. Running time: 123 MIN.

With

Robert Shaw Patrick McGee Dandy Nichols Sydney Tafler
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