A seedy ostensible poet, Spooner, visits the home of his wealthy and successful counterpart, Hirst. Their conversation suggests that they have come there after meeting in a pub. Further conversation suggests that they knew each other at university and share acquaintances and perhaps even lovers. Hirst's associates/assistants Foster and Briggs do their best to intimidate Spooner.Written by
Jim Beaver <email@example.com>
This is a filmed record of the final teaming of Sir John Gielgud and Sir Ralph Richardson, who first appeared together at the Old Vic Theatre in "Henry IV, Part I" in 1930 and teamed on stage many times since, most memorably in "The Tempest," "A Day By The Sea," "The School for Scandal," and "Home". This television broadcast made for BBCs Granada Television immortalizes their West End and Broadway success of Harold Pinter's fascinating though impenetrable play about the late night meeting between Hirst, a wealthy man of letters and Spooner, a down-at-heels Bohemian poet, which may represent the finest non-Shakespearean performances of either actors' careers. Particularly memorable is Gielgud, who presents Spooner as a clinging, fawning W. H. Auden-like poser which may be his most effective attempt at portraying a characterization on film outside of the typical stiff and very British Gielgud personae that we've grown accustomed to seeing in films like "Arthur" and "The Elephant Man".
Richardson is also marvelous as the more mysterious Spooner, who sometimes recalls Harry Meyers in "City Lights" as a millionaire who invites a tramp into his privileged world when he's plastered only to forget him when he sobers up, as well as Michael Kitchen and Terence Rigby offering excellent support as Hirst's flunkies. But it is Gielgud's masterful work as a sleazy pretender that creates the greatest impression.
Pinter's fascinating though somewhat baffling play has received some major revivals since its original production, most memorably with Christopher Plummer as Spooner and Jason Robards as Hirst (making his final stage performance) in a 1994 Broadway production and a 1992 London staging starring Pinter himself in the role of Hirst, but the play will forever be identified with Richardson and Gielgud in their final appearance together.
I managed to see this televised version at the Museum of Broadcasting in Los Angeles, and can only hope that it will someday be made available on DVD to a wider audience who will be grateful at catching a glimpse of two immortal actors at the height of their power.
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