|Directed by||Peter Yates|
|Produced by||Peter Yates|
|Written by||Ronald Harwood|
|Music by||James Horner|
|Editing by||Ray Lovejoy|
|Distributed by||Columbia Pictures|
|Running time||118 minutes|
The Dresser is a successful 1980 West End and Broadway play by Ronald Harwood, which tells the story of an aging actor's personal assistant, who struggles to keep his charge's life together. It was subsequently made into a 1983 film, based on Harwood's own screenplay. The film was directed by Peter Yates and produced by Yates with Ronald Harwood. The cinematography was by Kelvin Pike.
The film version of The Dresser stars Albert Finney, Tom Courtenay, Zena Walker, Eileen Atkins, Michael Gough and Edward Fox. Finney and Courtenay were both nominated for Academy Awards, BAFTA Awards and Golden Globe Awards for their performances, with Courtenay winning the Golden Globe Award for Best Actor - Motion Picture Drama in a tie with Robert Duvall for Tender Mercies.
In a touring Shakespearean theatre group, a backstage hand — the dresser — is devoted to the brilliant but tyrannical head of the company. He struggles to support the deteriorating star as the company struggles to carry on during the London blitz. The pathos of his backstage efforts rival the pathos in the story of Lear and the Fool that is being presented on-stage, as the situation comes to a crisis.
Background and production
Ronald Harwood based the play on his experiences as dresser to distinguished English Shakespearean actor-manager Sir Donald Wolfit, who is the model for the character "Sir" in the play. The play was first presented on 6 March 1980 at The Royal Exchange Theatre and then opened at the Queen's Theatre in London on 30 April 1980, with Freddie Jones as "Sir" and Tom Courtenay as Norman. The play was nominated for Best Play at the Laurence Olivier Awards for 1980.
The play opened at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre on 9 November 1981 and ran for 200 performances, with Tom Courtenay repeating his performance as Norman and Paul Rogers as "Sir". The play was nominated for the 1982 Tony Award for Best Play, Best Actor in a Play (Tom Courtenay) and the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Actor in a Play (Paul Rogers).
On film (1983)
- Albert Finney as Sir
- Tom Courtenay as Norman
- Edward Fox as Oxenby
- Zena Walker as Her Ladyship
- Eileen Atkins as Madge
- Michael Gough as Frank Carrington
- Cathryn Harrison as Irene
- Betty Marsden as Violet Manning
- Sheila Reid as Lydia Gibson
- Lockwood West as Geoffrey Thornton
- Donald Eccles as Mr. Godstone
- Llewellyn Rees as Horace Brown
- Guy Manning as Benton
- Anne Mannion as Beryl
- Kevin Stoney as C. Rivers Lane
- Ann Way as Miss White
- John Sharp as Mr. Bottomley
- Kathy Staff as Bombazine Woman
- Roger Avon as Charles
Awards and nominations
The film was nominated for five Academy Awards: two Best Actor in a Leading Role nominations (Tom Courtenay and Albert Finney), Best Director, Best Picture and Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium. Albert Finney won the Silver Bear for Best Actor at the 34th Berlin International Film Festival.