The Dresser

Adapted by Ronald Harwood from his 1980 London comedy-drama, this is indisputably one of the best films every made about theatre. It's funny, compassionate, compelling, and in its final moments pulls off an uncanny juxtaposition between the emotionally and physically crumbling Albert Finney and the character he's playing on stage for the 227th time, King Lear.

With:
Albert Finney Tom Courtenay Edward Fox Zena Walker Eileen Atkins Michael Gough

Adapted by Ronald Harwood from his 1980 London comedy-drama, this is indisputably one of the best films every made about theatre. It’s funny, compassionate, compelling, and in its final moments pulls off an uncanny juxtaposition between the emotionally and physically crumbling Albert Finney and the character he’s playing on stage for the 227th time, King Lear.

Finney portrays an aging, spoiled, grandiloquent actor-manager of a traditional English touring company whose dedication to his art creates chaos for those around him. The only character who can handle the old actor is his gofer-valet Norman, played with an amazing dexterity and energy by Tom Courtenay.

Director Peter Yates brings to the film, much of it shot at Pinewood, a strong visual sense of the British experience in wartime. And the whiff of greasepaint, particularly notable when aide Courtenay goads Finney into his makeup for Lear, lends the tawdry dressing room world of touring theatre its most physically felt detail.

Harwood is said to have based much of his story on his experiences with flamboyant actor-manager Donald Wolfit (1902-68) and his troupe.

1983: Nominations: Best Picture, Director, Actor (Albert Finney, Tom Courtenay), Adapted Screenplay

The Dresser

UK

Production: Goldcrest/World Film Services. Director Peter Yates; Producer Peter Yates; Screenplay Ronald Harwood; Camera Kelvin Pike; Editor Ray Lovejoy; Music James Horner; Art Director Stephen Grimes

Crew: (Color) Available on VHS, DVD. Extract of a review from 1983. Running time: 118 MIN.

With: Albert Finney Tom Courtenay Edward Fox Zena Walker Eileen Atkins Michael Gough

More Film

  • I Love You, Daddy

    Louis C.K.'s 'I Love You, Daddy' Leaks Online After Being Pulled From Theatrical Release

    Adapted by Ronald Harwood from his 1980 London comedy-drama, this is indisputably one of the best films every made about theatre. It’s funny, compassionate, compelling, and in its final moments pulls off an uncanny juxtaposition between the emotionally and physically crumbling Albert Finney and the character he’s playing on stage for the 227th time, King […]

  • Jennifer Lawrence

    Jennifer Lawrence to Star in Luca Guadagnino's 'Burial Rites' (EXCLUSIVE)

    Adapted by Ronald Harwood from his 1980 London comedy-drama, this is indisputably one of the best films every made about theatre. It’s funny, compassionate, compelling, and in its final moments pulls off an uncanny juxtaposition between the emotionally and physically crumbling Albert Finney and the character he’s playing on stage for the 227th time, King […]

  • Star Wars: The Last Jedi

    The Strangest, Swankiest and Most Expensive 'Star Wars: The Last Jedi' Merchandise

    Adapted by Ronald Harwood from his 1980 London comedy-drama, this is indisputably one of the best films every made about theatre. It’s funny, compassionate, compelling, and in its final moments pulls off an uncanny juxtaposition between the emotionally and physically crumbling Albert Finney and the character he’s playing on stage for the 227th time, King […]

  • Howard Gottfried

    Howard Gottfried, 'Network' Producer, Dies at 94

    Adapted by Ronald Harwood from his 1980 London comedy-drama, this is indisputably one of the best films every made about theatre. It’s funny, compassionate, compelling, and in its final moments pulls off an uncanny juxtaposition between the emotionally and physically crumbling Albert Finney and the character he’s playing on stage for the 227th time, King […]

  • Jim Broadbent Doctor Dolittle

    Jim Broadbent Joins Robert Downey Jr. in Universal's 'Voyage of Doctor Dolittle' (EXCLUSIVE)

    Adapted by Ronald Harwood from his 1980 London comedy-drama, this is indisputably one of the best films every made about theatre. It’s funny, compassionate, compelling, and in its final moments pulls off an uncanny juxtaposition between the emotionally and physically crumbling Albert Finney and the character he’s playing on stage for the 227th time, King […]

  • A woman poses for a selfie

    Five Key Questions About Saudi Arabia’s Decision to Reintroduce Movie Theaters

    Adapted by Ronald Harwood from his 1980 London comedy-drama, this is indisputably one of the best films every made about theatre. It’s funny, compassionate, compelling, and in its final moments pulls off an uncanny juxtaposition between the emotionally and physically crumbling Albert Finney and the character he’s playing on stage for the 227th time, King […]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content