The Entertainer

As the applause grew fainter … As the spotlight grew dimmer … His women were younger!

Drama Music
96 min     6.1     1960     United Kingdom


Archie Rice, an old-time British vaudeville performer sinking into final defeat, schemes to stay in show business.


CinemaSerf wrote:
Certainly, Laurence Olivier is superb in this drama, but he is surrounded by a superior supporting cast that lend huge poignancy to this story. He is "Archie Rice", a seaside entertainer who has long since passed his use-by date. His quick witted, slightly risqué and smutty humour no longer amuses the theatre audiences who now require much greater sophistication. He can't adapt though - it's in his blood. As he desperately tries to stay one step ahead of the bailiffs and the taxman, he puts his nearest and dearest through a maelstrom of emotions and trauma. It doesn't help his wife "Phoebe" (Brenda de Banzie) that he is also a bit of a womaniser - usually with younger girls, too. His long suffering kids "Jean" (Joan Plowright) and "Frank" (Alan Bates) try to keep things running as they struggle to make ends meet and stay cohesive as a family. Add to these four, a sparing but super contribution from Roger Livesey as his father - another man who made his living treading the boards back in the day, and what we have here is a telling look at a man who just no longer belongs. Olivier, the actor, turns his hand to stand-up, tap dancing, singing - all standard skills that anyone making a living this way would have needed; and he does it really well. None of the theatrical, method style he is so often famed (and criticised) for. Indeed, I think this is the most natural I have ever seen him on film. He seems to be rejoicing in the role - and that's contagious to watch. It's not a bundle of laughs, we are given plenty of opportunity to dislike this rather selfish, narcissist - especially when he is with the excellent Plowright and de Banzie. Although there is an inevitability to the conclusion, I still felt for this family reaching a crossroads, ill-equipped to fit into a society they didn't recognise nor really want to embrace.