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Film Society of Lincoln Center to Present a Week of Harold Pinter: Comedies of Menace and Quiet Desperation

Film Society of Lincoln Center to Present a Week of Harold Pinter: Comedies of Menace and Quiet Desperation

In honor of “Betrayal”‘s Broadway opening, the Film Society of Lincoln Center has fashioned a Pinter-centric program, presenting some of the best adaptations of the Englishman’s work, in addition to his own screenplays. Pinter’s career as a playwright began with a production of “The Roomin 1957, and eventually spanned more than 50 years, netting him the 2005 Nobel Prize for Literature and the French Légion d’honneur in 2007. His best-known plays include “The Birthday Party” (1957), “The Homecoming” (1964), and “Betrayal” (1978), each of which he adapted for the screen. His screenplay adaptations of others’ works include “The Servant” (1963), “The Go-Between” (1970), “The French Lieutenant’s Woman” (1981), “The Trial” (1993), and “Sleuth” (2007).

“The Broadway production of one of Harold Pinter’s masterpieces, ‘Betrayal,’
is sure to be one of the theatrical events of the year, and provided
the perfect occasion for us to revisit Pinter’s body of work for the
cinema” said Gavin Smith, Editor of Film Comment Magazine and FSLC Senior
Programmer. “The major omission, ironically, is the 1983 adaptation of ‘Betrayal’
starring Jeremy Irons and Ben Kingsley—which we look forward to
screening early next year following the conclusion of the Broadway run.”

A Week of Harold Pinter: Comedies of Menace & Quiet Desperation will run from November 22-28, and you can find the full schedule below.

ACCIDENT
Joseph Losey, U.K., 1967, 35mm; 105m
Summer in Oxford, and beneath the genteel surface there’s a network of
resentment and cruelty between two professors (Dirk Bogarde and Stanley
Baker). They’ve both dallied with the same student, injured in a car
crash that took the life of her boyfriend. Pinter’s second collaboration
with Joseph Losey is even bolder than The Servant; the time
shifts, the nuanced performances and the astonishing use of color and
sound contribute to a quietly devastating film. One of the boldest works
of a bold era. With Michael York, Vivien Merchant (Pinter’s then-wife),
Jacqueline Sassard, Alexander Knox, Delphine Seyrig and Pinter himself
as Bell.

Monday, November 25, 9pm
 
The Birthday Party
William Friedkin, U.K., 1968, 35mm; 123m
In what Harold Clurman called “a fantasia of fear and persecution,”
seaside boarding-house lodger Robert Shaw is terrorized and broken down
by two menacing strangers (Patrick Magee and Sidney Tafler) who throw
him a birthday party—even though it isn’t his birthday. British actress
Dandy Nichols gave a career performance as the landlady.

Saturday, November 23, 4pm
Tuesday, November 26, 1:30pm + 6:30pm
Thursday, November 28, 6:00pm
 
The Caretaker
Clive Donner, U.K., 1964, 35mm; 105m
One of Pinter’s favorites among the many adaptations of his plays for
the screen, this movie, also known as The Guest, was privately financed
by a group of 10 that included Peter Sellers, Noel Coward and Mr. and
Mrs. Richard Burton. Alan Bates and Robert Shaw are Mick and Aston, two
warring brothers. Aston invites a tramp named Davis (Donald Pleasence)
to stay at Mick’s house, and the brothers use the poor man as both a
shield and a weapon. Brilliantly directed by Clive Donner, and shot by
future director Nicolas Roeg.

Friday, November 22, 4:15pm
Monday, November 25, 2:00pm
Wednesday, November 27, 2:00pm
Thursday, November 28, 3:45pm
 
The French Lieutenant’s Woman
Karel Reisz, U.K., 1981, 35mm; 123m
John Fowles’s celebrated novel is rethought by Pinter as a metamovie
in which the story of a Victorian fossil-collector (Jeremy Irons)
gradually drawn into an affair with a scarlet woman (Meryl Streep) is
interspersed with scenes of the making of the film in which actors Mike
(Irons) and Anna (Streep) begin an affair of their own.

Saturday, November 23, 1:30pm
Sunday, November 24, 8:40pm
Wednesday, November 27, 4:15pm
 
The Go-Between
Joseph Losey, U.K., 1971, 35mm; 118m
Michael Redgrave is Leo Colston, remembering back to 1900, when he was
boy of 13 (Dominic Guard plays Leo as a boy) and spent the summer at
the Norfolk estate of his friend Marcus. Marcus’s sister Marian (Julie
Christie) takes a shine to Leo, and eventually starts asking him to take
secret messages to their neighbor Ted (Alan Bates), behind the back of
the man to whom she’s engaged (Edward Fox). L.P. Hartley’s novel is a
modern classic, as powerful an inquiry into the nature of veiled
motivations and emotions in Ford Madox Ford’s The Good Soldier.
In their final collaboration, Pinter and Losey crafted an acutely
perceptive, quietly tragic film out of Hartley’s classic. Thanks to
their addition of the framing device with Redgrave as the older Leo, The Go-Between ranks as one of the finest “memory films” ever made. “When I first read The Go-Between I burst into tears on the last page,” Pinter admitted.

Friday, November 22, 9pm
Saturday, November 23, 6:45pm
Monday, November 25, 4:15pm
 
The Homecoming
Peter Hall, U.K./USA, 1973, 35mm; 114m
Cyril Cusack, Ian Holm, Michael Jayston, Vivien Merchant, Terence
Rigby and Paul Rogers repeat their brilliant performances from the
original 1965 production of Pinter’s masterpiece, brought to the screen
for the American Film Theater series in the 70s and perfectly staged by
the great Sir Peter Hall. Jayston is the son returning home with his
wife (Merchant). They find the family nest buzzing with anger and ill
feelings, a small colony of people—father (Rogers), Uncle (Cusack) and
brothers (Holm and Rigby)—who can never get away from the terrible, cozy
comforts of family. A towering achievement in theater, and a great
film.

Sunday, November 24, 4:00pm
Monday, November 25, 6:30pm
Wednesday, November 27, 9pm
Thursday, November 28, 1:30pm
 
The Last Tycoon
Elia Kazan, U.S., 1976; 130m
Pinter’s adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s unfinished novel,
inspired by MGM mogul Irving Thalberg, about a Hollywood production head
undone by a romantic obssession and the complications of studio
politics. Elia Kazan assembles an all star cast: Robert De Niro, Jack
Nicholson, Robert Mitchum, Jeanne Moreau, Tony Curtis…

Friday, November 22, 6:30pm
Tuesday, November 26, 9:00pm
 
The Pumpkin Eater
Jack Clayton, 1964; 110m
Anne Bancroft is a woman with six children who fastens herself to
Peter Finch. As she is pregnant with baby number seven, she discovers
that her new husband is unfaithful, and suffers a breakdown, made worse
when lecherous James Mason tells her Finch is expecting a child with
another woman. A magnificent film of hushed resignation and anguish,
adapted by Pinter from Penelope Mortimer’s novel, beautifully acted by
Bancroft, Finch and Mason and perfectly mounted by perennially
underrated director Jack Clayton. Music by Georges Delerue.

Sunday, November 24, 6:15pm
Tuesday, November 26, 4pm
 
The Servant
Joseph Losey, U.K., 1963; 115m
A breakthrough: a long, elegant swan dive into the intricacies of the
British class system, with a tone unlike that of any other film before
or since, at once urbane, nasty and cool. Dirk Bogarde is Barrett, the
servant hired by a lazy young aristocrat (James Fox) named Tony to
manage his newly acquired Georgian townhouse. When Barrett realizes that
Tony’s upper-crust girlfriend (Wendy Craig) is a threat to his
supremacy within the household, he sets his sluttish girlfriend (Sarah
Miles) to work. By the end, the tables have turned, and master and
servant are equals on a field of loathing. It took quite a bit of doing
for Losey, Pinter and Bogarde to get this adaptation of Robin Maugham’s
novel off the ground, but it was worth it: “The film still seems as fresh as a daisy to me,” wrote Pinter, “whilst stinking of moral corruption.”

Friday, November 22, 2:00pm
Sunday, November 24, 1:45pm
Wednesday, November 27, 6:45pm
 
Turtle Diary
John Irvin, U.K., 1985, 35mm; 96m
In this adaptation of Russell Hoban’s novel, lonely bookseller Ben
Kingsley and single children’s author Glenda Jackson are brought
together by their mutual longing to liberate the turtles at the zoo
aquarium, aided by zookeeper Michael Gambon. Watch out for Pinter’s
bookshop customer cameo and supporting performances by Jeroen Krabbe,
Harriet Walter and Eleanor Bron.

Saturday, November 23, 9pm

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