The Dresser

Director: Peter Yates
Year Released: 1983
Rating: 2.5

Tom Courtenay mollycoddles diva performer Albert Finney, who is actually losing his mind - the film acts as an extended death scene for Finney, who begins croaking right when the movie begins. Both performances are the centerpiece of this picture (and the purely natural way they deliver the dialogue, mixed with references to a multitude of plays), but watching Finney go spastic every few minutes, gnawing on his chair and screaming, is quite excessive. It is refreshing as a view of the problems with putting on a stage production - except unlike 42nd Street, the 'definite' back-stage work, this has the impending darkness of World War II bombing the buildings and the unstoppable hand of mortality squeezing the aging performers.