The Dresser

D: Peter Yates
Columbia/Goldcrest (Peter Yates)
UK 🇬🇧 1983
118 mins


W: Ronald Harwood [based on his play]
DP: Kelvin Pike
Ed: Ray Lovejoy
Mus: James Horner
PD: Stephen Grimes

Albert Finney (Sir), Tom Courtenay (Norman), Edward Fox (Oxenby), Zena Walker (Her Ladyship), Eileen Atkins (Madge), Michael Gough (Frank Carrington) 

Adapted from Ronald Harwood's stage play which itself was based on autobiographical events, The Dresser is a dramatic study of off-stage theatrical events.
Set in Yorkshire during World War II, a theatre act headed by an ageing, grandiloquent veteran of the stage who is only referred to as Sir, who prepares for a performance for King Lear while battling alcoholism and dementia, assisted by his devoted, effeminate dresser, Norman.
The film is given its strength by the two excellent leading performances from Albert Finney and Tom Courtenay, the latter reprising the role he played on stage.
The subject matter would probably work best in the theatre, but as a film adaptation, it's a fine piece of work with allegorical references to several Shakespearian works. It won't be appreciated by everyone however, as it's much more an actor's film than an audiences.

Albert Finney & Tom Courtenay in The Dresser
Albert Finney & Tom Courtenay in The Dresser