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Pre-Order The Birthday Party (1968) (Blu-ray) Available for Preorder (1 Viewer)

Ronald Epstein

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The Drifter

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About a year ago, I first saw the Pinter/Friedkin film The Birthday Party (1968) on Blu. Great movie. I had never heard of this prior to the relatively recent release.

Technical review:

Picture Quality - Superb! This is one of the best prints I've seen of a 1960's film. Amazing color as well.

Audio - honestly, not that great. Though I have excellent hearing, I couldn't make out the dialogue in certain cases; it wasn't that it was muffled, just that it wasn't clear. I understand there are probably limitations re: the source material given that this is such an old film. So, at the least they should have included subtitles - which are sadly missing from this release.

Story:

Excellent & very tense. Even though the action took place primarily in one location (a couple of rooms in the small boarding house) it was extremely well-done.

The Landlady's (Meg) constant attempts to ingratiate herself with both her husband and Stanley the boarder were sad, touching, and genuine. (For some reason, her character reminded me a lot of Edith Bunker on the TV sitcom All in the Family - thought obviously TBP pre-dated AITF by two years).

I intentionally went into the movie without knowing anything about the story. When the film opened, it looked like it was going to be a UK "kitchen sink" drama with a lot of dialogue re: people ruminating on their lot in life, etc. Like the much later Kenneth Branagh/Emma Thompson BBC TV production Look Back in Anger (1989), TBP was also based on a play.

However, the story immediately became more menacing & sinister when the two "mysterious strangers" came to the boardinghouse & started interacting with Stanley (Robert Shaw). It was obvious that he had done something in his past - that he was running away from...
 

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