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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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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Of Athletics and Angry Young Men: The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner (1962)

“Running’s always been a big thing in our family — especially running away from the police. It’s hard to understand. All I know is that you’ve got to run, run without knowing why, through fields and woods. And the winning post’s no end, even though barmy crowds might be cheering themselves daft. That’s what the loneliness of the long distance runner feels like.”

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