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THE ENTERTAINER (1960, GBR) – 7.5/10

Laurence Olivier is one of the greatest actors of all time, and one of the ten acting nominations he earned (in addition to winning the Oscar for the role of “Hamlet”, which he directed himself, for which he was also nominated for direction) was for the role of Archie Rice, an aged, a third-rate vaudevillian who has been overtaken by time, although he does not want to admit it. Practically no one is interested in his old-fashioned theater performances, the songs and dances he performs have stuck since the time of World War II, and his jokes probably date back to World War I. However, he still tries to survive on the stage, although it is obvious that he is not doing well because he is facing bankruptcy, and his private life is in complete disintegration. Nevertheless, he seems to have managed to convince himself that everything will turn around and is feverishly trying to find naive people who would finance his new play, and the ideal choice could be the parents of Tina (Shirley Anne Field), a well-to-do girl who has just been chosen in the Miss and she fell for his charm.

It quickly becomes clear to us that Archie is an incredibly egotistical guy, a man in his late fifties who has an extremely high opinion of himself, and treats people as if they exist solely to please him. His wife Phoebe is an alcoholic who constantly nags him. The younger son Frank (Alan Bates) is his assistant, the older Mick (Albert Finney) is a soldier who has just been sent to Africa because of the crisis in the Suez Canal, and in the seaside town where Archie has his theater, his daughter Jean (Joan Plowright, for whom this was her first major film role). It is clear to her that a lot has changed since she was last there, and an important part of this dysfunctional family is her grandfather and Archie’s father Billy (Roger Livesy), who was also once an entertainer.

Archie is in serious trouble because the taxman is behind his neck since he hasn’t paid contributions for his actors for years, but he still intends to go literally head through the wall. While the world around him is literally collapsing and disappearing, he tries to make a comeback through a combination of self-delusion, deception, slander, charm and sweet talk with the addition of a lack of regard for all those who love him. And indeed, this is one of those films in which a lot rests on the performance of the main actor, and Olivier perfected the role of Archie Rice back in the play written by John Osborne, a playwright who is noted for transforming and modernizing English theater in the fifties. After the incredible success of the drama “Look Back in Anger”, which was also adapted into a film with Richard Burton in the lead role, directed by Tony Richardson, “The Entertainer” was also made under his direction.

Osborne and “Look Back in Anger” is also considered the originator of neorealism in British film, which is also called Kitchen sink realism, and in this movement, the problems of ordinary, average British people in a changing society are shown. Although “The Entertainer” may not be a typical representative of Kitchen Sink, it is nevertheless a great portrayal of social change and the people who failed to navigate it. Given that the film is based on a play, it is not surprising that “The Entertainer” is quite theatrical, and such is the conspicuous and intrusive main character who literally destroys everything in front of him, living in a fantasy that everything will be in order again and that he will become a star again . Although he himself is clear that it is absolutely unreal and unattainable.