The Comedy Man

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The Comedy Man
UK campaign book cover
Directed byAlvin Rakoff
Written byPeter Yeldham
Based onnovel by Douglas Hayes
Produced byDavid Henley
Jon Penington
StarringKenneth More
CinematographyKen Hodges
Edited byErnest Hosler
Music byBill McGuffie
Production
companies
Consant Films
Gray-Film
Distributed byBritish Lion Film Corporation (UK)
Release date
3 September 1964 (London) (UK)
Running time
92 minutes
CountryUnited Kingdom
LanguageEnglish

The Comedy Man is a 1964 British kitchen sink realism drama film directed by Alvin Rakoff and starring Kenneth More, Cecil Parker, Dennis Price and Billie Whitelaw. It depicts the life of a struggling actor in Swinging London.[1]

More later said that when he read the script he "was profoundly struck by its relevance to my own life, and to the lives of so many actors I had known."[2] The film received limited distribution, being released on a double bill with Lord of the Flies (1963). It was More's last film as a film star, although he continued to star in stage plays and television.[3]

Plot[edit]

Sacked from his job in provincial rep, actor Chick Byrd moves into digs in London with Julian, a fellow actor. Julian's career soars after a successful screen test, but Chick's meets with continued failure. After the suicide of an actor friend, Jack Lavery, Chick is informed by his widow that just after Jack's death he was offered a job by Tommy Morris, an agent.

Chick contacts Tommy and takes Jack's job for a TV commercial. Chick finally finds fame when the commercial is a hit and he's signed for a series of commercials for breath mints. Confident of his talents for the first time, but fearing that he may have sold out, Chick leaves London to return to rep.

Cast[edit]

Production[edit]

Kenneth More wrote in his memoirs that he was not being offered any film scripts when he was sent this script by an American producer, Hal Chester. More later recalled: "I read the script and was profoundly struck by its relevance to my own life, and to the lives of so many actors I had known."[4] More said that he took the part "against the advice of my agent, my friends, everybody. I even had to put money into the film. But it was worth it."[5]

More did not get along with Hal Chester, who he felt cut important scenes from the film, but he enjoyed playing the role.[4] During filming More had an affair with Angela Douglas, who plays his girlfriend in the film. He later left his wife to marry Douglas.

Filming took place in February and March 1963. More said that "the public won't accept me as a stevedore or as a Liverpool truck driver, so I've been prevented until now from making a realistic subject, although its something that I've been longing to do".[6]

Recent assessments[edit]

According to Robin Karney, writing for Radio Times, the film was "written by Peter Yeldham with a nice balance between irony and drama, and directed by Alvin Rakoff with an accurate eye for the dingy environments and brave bonhomie of unemployed actors". It is a "modest British film" that "boasts a superior cast".[7]

Allmovie wrote that "matching More's terrific starring performance are such British 'regulars' as Dennis Price, Billie Whitelaw, Cecil Parker, Norman Rossington and Frank Finlay".[8]

The Sunday Mirror asserts that the film features "Kenneth More in the greatest performance of his career" and that it is "brilliantly directed".[9]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "The Comedy Man". BFI. Archived from the original on 12 July 2012.
  2. ^ Kenneth More, More or Less, Hodder & Staughton, 1978 p 189
  3. ^ Vagg, Stephen (16 April 2023). "Surviving Cold Streaks: Kenneth More". Filmink.
  4. ^ a b More, Kenneth (1978). More or less. p. 189.
  5. ^ Garrett, Gerard (1 November 1963). "My Future, My Marriage and the Girl in My Life". Evening Standard. p. 10.
  6. ^ "Kenneth More will accept realistic role". The Gazette. 22 March 1963. p. 30.
  7. ^ Robin Karney. "The Comedy Man - Film review and movie reviews - Radio Times". RadioTimes.
  8. ^ "The Comedy Man (1964) - Trailers, Reviews, Synopsis, Showtimes and Cast - AllMovie". AllMovie.
  9. ^ "Alvin Rakoff". alvinrakoff.com.

External links[edit]