Butley (film)

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For the play this name, see Butley (play). For the village of this name in England, see Butley, Suffolk.

Butley is a 1974 film directed by Harold Pinter, an adaptation from Simon Gray's 1971 play of same name. The film starred Alan Bates, Jessica Tandy, Richard O'Callaghan, Susan Engel, and Michael Byrne.

The title character, a literature professor and longtime T. S. Eliot scholar with a recently developed interest in Beatrix Potter, is a suicidal alcoholic, who loses his wife and his male lover on the same day. The dark comedy encompasses several hours in which he bullies students, friends, and colleagues, while falling apart at the seams. Apart from an opening sequence of Butley waking in his flat with a hangover and taking the Underground and occasional shots in the corridor and the pub at lunchtime, the entire film takes place in Butley's office.

In his introduction to the trade edition of the play, the film's director Harold Pinter wrote:

Simon Gray asked me to direct Butley in 1970. I found its savage, lacerating wit hard to beat and accepted the invitation. . . . The extraordinary thing about Butley, it still seems to me, is that the play gives us a character who hurls himself towards the destruction while living, in the fever of his intellectual hell, with a vitality and brilliance known to few of us. He courts death by remaining ruthlessly – even dementedly – alive. It's a remarkable creation and Alan Bates as Butley gave the performance of a lifetime.[1]

The film lasts 130 minutes and was shot at Shepperton Studios. The Executive Producer was Otto Plaschkes and the cinematographer was Gerry Fisher.



  1. ^ Gray, Simon, Simon Gray: Plays 1, Faber 2010

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