6.5/10
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11 user 10 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.

Director:

William Friedkin

Writer:

Harold Pinter (screenplay)
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1 nomination. See more awards »

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John Wilson is troubled with pain and and an inability to sleep. He tries to light the gas-fire and seeks help from another lodger, artist Nicholas, who is spending the night with his model... See full summary »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Robert Shaw ... Stanley
Patrick Magee ... McCann
Sydney Tafler Sydney Tafler ... Goldberg
Dandy Nichols ... Meg
Moultrie Kelsall ... Petey
Helen Fraser Helen Fraser ... Lulu
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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

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Certificate:

G | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

UK

Language:

English

Release Date:

9 December 1968 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

A Festa de Aniversário See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

Mono (Westrex Recording System)

Color:

Black and White (some sequences)| Color (photographed in) (Eastman Color)
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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

Nat Goldberg: But a birthday, I always feel, is a great occasion, taken too much for granted these days. What a thing to celebrate, birth! Like getting up in the morning. Marvelous! Some people don't like the idea of getting up in the morning. I've heard them. Getting up in the morning, they say, what is it? Your skin's crabby, you need a shave, your eyes are full of muck, your mouth is like a boghouse, the palms of your hands are full of sweat, your nose is clogged up, your feet stink, what are you but a ...
[...]
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Connections

Version of The Birthday Party (1966) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Brilliant
21 September 2012 | by solszew-1See 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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