Laurence Olivier plays Archie Rice, a mediocre music hall artist upholding a dying tradition in an English seaside town. Tony Richardson originally directed Laurence Olivier as Rice in the Royal Court's theatre production, and did so again in this, his second feature. The seedy world which Archie Rice occupies could be seen to represent the general malaise of post-war Britain, previously explored by writer John Osborne in his play Look Back in Anger, adapted for the screen by Nigel Kneale in 1959. Kneale subsequently went on to co-write The Entertainer with Osborne.
Olivier is supported by a superb cast including a young Alan Bates as his son, Roger Livesey as his kindly, now retired, always more talented and popular father, and Joan Plowright as his daughter. The remarkable cast also features Daniel Massey, Shirley Anne Field, Thora Hird and Charles Gray. Olivier's portrayal of a man coming undone at the seams and revealing the emptiness inside, is a revelation. It changed the public's perception of him, introducing him to a new younger audience, and garnered him yet another Oscar® nomination.
George Devine Memorial Play: The Entertainer - Sequences One and Two (1966, 6 mins, 5 mins) David Frost-produced film, directed by Peter Whitehead, capturing a stage performance in memory of the late Royal Court director, starring Laurence Olivier
O Dreamland (1953, 13 mins): Lindsay Anderson's (If...., This Sporting Life) Free Cinema film shot at Margate's iconic amusement park
Archive shorts from Topical Budget and Mitchell and Kenyon (1900-1929, total 15 mins): rare footage of turn-of-the century Morecambe, featuring scenes along the promenade and piers, as well as a visit to the 1929 Morecambe Carnival
Lancashire Coast (1957, 15 mins): the charms of England's north-west, from Morecambe and Southport to the Pilling Marches
Illustrated booklet with essays by Steven Hess and Vic Pratt, plus full film credits