The Show Must Go On: The Entertainer (1960)

Archie Sign with Jean

Outside a theater in an English seaside town, an artist’s rendering of a grotesque face, massive in scale and positioned over the words “Archie Rice: The One and Only,” grins down at passersby. Scarcely anybody gives it even a moment’s glance, but one young woman, Jean (Joan Plowright), stops in the middle of the crowded sidewalk to gaze up at it. The expression on her face suggests a certain fondness for this strange figure, with perhaps the slightest touch of ambivalence. This ambivalence grows as she looks at the other promotional materials on display depicting the one and only Archie (Laurence Olivier) — no less grotesque in photographs than in drawings — posed with scantily-clad showgirls and proclaiming him “T.V. & Radio’s Sauciest Comic,” until she’s become downright glum. Obviously, Archie Rice is a public figure, but in private life he happens to be Jean’s father — and yet, different though they are in many ways, it’s not always easy to tell precisely where the public figure ends and the private man begins.

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Traveling Through Time: Two for the Road (1967)

Opening

“They don’t look very happy.”
“Why should they? They just got married.”

As this cynical, even grim little exchange that opens the Stanley Donen-directed, Frederic Raphael-scripted 1967 film Two for the Road immediately makes clear, the relationship between Joanna and Mark Wallace (Audrey Hepburn, Albert Finney) isn’t exactly the picture of connubial bliss. When, while driving, they chance across a glum pair of newlyweds, prompting this conversation, the Wallaces are over a decade into their own marriage. In light of the coldness and tension between them, their frequent bickering and their open talk about the possibility of divorce, it appears that the end of their shared road through life may be within sight — a road comprising numerous literal journeys throughout France that, taken together, offer a multifaceted portrait of their marriage and how they reached this point.

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Blind Spot Series: Tom Jones (1963)

Tom Jones Title Card

Upon going to bed one evening, Squire Allworthy (George Devine), a gentleman in eighteenth-century England, finds a surprise waiting for him there: a baby. Neither his sister, Bridget (Rachel Kempson), nor his housekeeper, Mrs. Wilkins (Angela Baddeley), knows where it came from, but they decide that the parents must be a young woman named Jenny Jones (Joyce Redman) and Partridge the barber (Jack MacGowran). Squire Allworthy sends Jenny away to save her from shame and declares that he intends to raise the baby himself; thus begins the life of Tom Jones, “of whom the opinion of all was that he was born to be hanged.”

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