The Birthday Party

(William Friedkin, UK, 1968)


The plays of Harold Pinter, with their misanthropic, apolitical view of the demented human animal, already seem like relics of a bygone '60s era.

Yet Pinter's rigorously minimal, elliptical way with characterisation and dialogue – always playing on silence and suggestion – continues to work well in film all the way through to the '90s, as his script for The Comfort of Strangers (1991) proved.

William Friedkin's filming of Pinter's The Birthday Party with Robert Shaw and Patrick Magee is stagey, but suitably claustrophobic and intense.

MORE Friedkin: The Exorcist, Jade, Rules of Engagement, Cruising, The Caine Mutiny Court-Martial

© Adrian Martin November 1992

Film Critic: Adrian Martin
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