(Air Date: 9/8/89)
"The Entertainer" is the 1960 film in which Laurence Olivier, then 53, bid farewell to the romantic roles of his youth. Olivier surrounded himself with the angry young men of that era: director Tony Richardson, writer John Osborne, and unknown actors Albert Finney and Alan Bates. The bitter film represents a complete departure from his previous work. It also ended his twenty-year marriage to actress Vivien Leigh: Joan Plowright, the young actress who played his daughter would become Lady Olivier within the year.
"The Entertainer" is saturated with yearnings for a life which only seems desirable to outsiders. Olivier plays a seedy music hall artiste who lusts after beauty contest winner Shirley Anne Field. Meanwhile, he pretends not to know his own family, refusing to face his reflection in their eyes. It is a harsh portrait, unclouded by the sentiment which flaws his work in the 1952 film "Carrie". Olivier won an Oscar nomination for "The Entertainer", revitalizing his career as a strong character actor.
Copyright 1989 Monica Sullivan
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