Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
Actors: Alan Bates, Jessica Tandy, Richard O'Callaghan, Susan Engel, Michael Byrne
Director: Harold Pinter
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama
An Exercise in Wit
James Morris | Jackson Heights, NY United States | 12/03/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Although his sexuality is not the main focus of the story, the character of Butley is unabashedly homosexual, and since this is primarily a humorous piece, I classify this movie as a gay comedy. But unlike 95% of other so-called gay comedies, this picture has class, bite, first-rate acting and a brilliant script. I was fortunate enough to see the late Alan Bates do the play on Broadway in 1973. The story is transferred to film exactly as it was done on stage, and benefits from the directorial debut of legendary playwright Harold Pinter. The script may be slightly dated to some, especially considering that it was made over 30 years ago, but a good film is timeless and this is no exception. The film's main attribute is the extremely intelligent, fast-paced and witty script by Simon Gray. There are reasons why the original production won Tony awards for Best Play and Best Actor in 1973. This is one of those rare comedies whose wit makes you think and work as you view it, but the result of your efforts will be enormously satisfying. Alan Bates is Ben Butley, a 30-something professor of literature at a prestigious but small London University, and Mr. Butley is not having a good day. He has not only learned that his ex-wife is about to marry "the most boring man in London", his male live-in lover (with whom he also shares his office) is about to leave him for another fellow. Butley is rude. He is vicious. He is a drunk, a liar and an egomaniac, and he spends most of his day dodging tutorial appointments with his long-suffering students, who usually wind up fleeing his office in tears. He has made a shambles of his personal life and everyone associated with it, and his venom is at full strength on this particular day when he learns that a seemingly untalented colleague has been published ahead of him. Jessica Tandy appears in a brilliant but brief supporting role. To quote from the DVD case: "Bates and an excellent supporting cast...joust with a sly, self-referencing wit and an unselfconscious exuberance that is breathtaking. With every verbal parry and valedictory flourish of wordplay, Butley's life becomes more of an inescapable bear-trap of thwarted ambition, clandestine affection and squandered brilliance". This movie is for people who like their comedy barbed and intellectually stimulating. Simply put, if you liked the Lion In Winter, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf, or the Killing of Sister George, this film is for you."
One of the Greatest Performances
Kockenlocker | Portland, Oregon United States | 04/12/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"To me, this has always been the gem of the American Film Theatres almost always excellent series of filmed classic plays.Alan Bates performance is a wonder of nuaince. Ben Butley is a middle-aged college professor whose life is a disaster. Simon Gray's play incisively presents a harrowing and usually hilarious profile of a decent man gone wrong. That you actually can deeply care about Butley is due to Gray's marvelous script for the film version of his play. Alan Bates, who won both the London and Tony awards for this performance, is as great as Jason Robards' justly legendary performance in "The Iceman Cometh."And Harold Pinter, who directed the play, also directs this film. He does a world-class job directing his first film. Everything here works to the aim of the play.AFT's three years of production would have been worth it just for "Butley." Without AFT there would be no record at all of this extraordinary original production.If you love drama that hits the jugular with deft, knowing and compassionate, but never sentimental, veracity, this is for you.The entire cast couldn't be better with Jessica Tandy perfect as Butley's unaware academic nemesis.If most of the increasing idiocy of commercial film as made movies off limits for you, this series--and especially "Butley"--is waiting to alleviate your craving for civilized drama that doesn't shy at cutting deep.I can't wait to see the other titles in this series again."
Lost treasure found again
Kockenlocker | 06/24/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"BUTLEY is one of a number of Gray works that have been described as dissections of the male menopause. Like all good English drama this is not only realistic but also very very entertaining. This film version [compare it to the text and marvel of how little has been cut from the stage version] is not for the bombastic set. It is for all of those who crave a masterwork of verbosity acted by one of England's finest: Alan Bates. That the AFT series has been buried beneath legal ["administrative tangles"?] for so long is typical of our times but from Australia we thank whoever is responsible for making this series available once again.I have viewed all five of the AFT [Box 1] and found BUTLEY to be the worst, in terms of transfer. The long shots are slightly blurred and there seems to be a slight bumping in the print used for video transfer which occurs periodically. It is a minor fault however."
John Farr | 07/03/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Want to see what really great acting looks like? Here's your film. Gray's biting play is elevated by Bates's astonishing, virtually one-man show. Secondary characters are strong, but serve mainly as figures for Butley to lacerate. Butley's disillusionment isn't all that unusual; it's his unparalleled ability to channel it that amazes: as he sinks further into isolation, he singes as many people as possible. The paradox is, it's fun watching him self-immolate, since he is so damned clever."