6.8/10
458
10 user 7 critic

The Birthday Party (1968)

The down-at-heel lodger in a seaside boarding house is menaced by two mysterious strangers, who eventually take him away.

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
...
Shamus McCann
Dandy Nichols ...
Meg Bowles
Sydney Tafler ...
...
Pete Bowles
Helen Fraser ...
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Storyline

Based on Harold Pinter's enigmatic play about a border in a British seaside dwelling who is visited by two strangers. They torment him verbally, ask him idiotic unanswerable questions, force him to sit down and stand up, and give him a "party." Then, eventually, they take him away, a tongue-tied idiot. The trivial becomes the terrible, and with it a certain wonder, a certain pity. Written by alfiehitchie

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Certificate:

G | See all certifications »
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Details

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Release Date:

9 December 1968 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

A Festa de Aniversário  »

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Did You Know?

Trivia

There was a ten-day rehearsal period and the shoot went smoothly. Friedkin says the only tense exchange he had with Pinter in a year of working together came when Joseph Losey saw the movie and requested via Pinter that Friedkin cut out a mirror shot as it was too close to Losey's style; Friedkin refused as "I wasn't about to destroy the film's continuity to mollify Losey's ego". See more »

Quotes

Stanley Webber: How would you like to go away with me?
Lulu: What?
Stanley Webber: How would you like to go away with me?
Lulu: Where would we go?
Stanley Webber: Nowhere...
Lulu: Well that's a charming proposal.
Stanley Webber: There's nowhere to go, so we could just go, it wouldn't matter.
Lulu: We might as well stay here.
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Connections

Version of Die Geburtstagsfeier (1978) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Brilliant
21 September 2012 | by See all my reviews

Harold Pinter's brilliant early play-on-film, The Birthday Party, is one of his best efforts, and perhaps, with The Homecoming, the pinnacle of the Theater of the Absurd. The plot itself is simple. Two men come to visit Stanley, a classical pianist who has, for unknown reasons, left his home and is staying with a provincial couple. He is visited by Shamus McCann (Patrick McGee) and Nat Goldberg (Sydney Tafler). They alternately celebrate and menace Stanley, who may or may or may not know them. Nothing is clearly stated. Most of the dialogue consists of insinuations and vague threats. Performances across the board are outstanding, with Robert Shaw outdoing himself as Stanley Weber. Moultrie Keisall as Petey is excellent but understated, and his final words really put the cherry on the birthday cake. (sorry for the pun). Nothing I can say can communicate the unique strangeness and power of this film. Top marks, 5 stars, classic.


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