Directed by Tony Richardson
Starring: Laurence Olivier, Joan Plowright, Alan Bates, Albert Finney, Roger Livesey
Set in the seaside town of Morecambe, this John Osborne-penned domestic drama deals with concerns relevant to British tourism even today – most notably the need to revamp traditional customs of holiday entertainment and move with the times. In detailing the resistance of Laurence Olivier’s Archie to transition from his Vaudeville roots, “The Entertainer” expresses the difficulties posed by the uncertainty of change, balancing the suffocation of small-town living with the charm of its familiar comforts. The film has a real knack for building loaded relationships between the characters without them having to vocalise issues, far looser and eminently more interesting than the overwrought “Look Back in Anger.” Away from Shakespearean territory Olivier enlivens Osborne’s selfish antihero with a sad artificiality, reinforcing the independent spirit of Archie by ‘performing’ to even his closest family members, and hurting them by acting like the twenty year-old Jack The Lad it’s obvious he once was. It feels fitting that in a year loaded with great male acting showcases – from Anthony Perkins, Marcello Mastrioianni, Albert Finney, Jack Lemmon, Burt Lancaster, and Spencer Tracy, to name but a few – Olivier managed to bring out his best, too.