Joseph L. Mankiewicz, 1972
USA/UK | Format: 35mm | 138 minutes
Mankiewicz’s swan song, this adaptation of Anthony Shaffer’s phenomenally successful stage play is a delightful, epic pas de deux between two great actors whose wildly varying temperaments and approaches to their craft are mirrored and echoed by the class distinctions embodied by their characters. Laurence Olivier is famed mystery author Andrew Wyke, who invites London hairdresser Milo Tindle, played by Michael Caine, to his country estate for the weekend. After Andrew reveals that he knows of Milo’s affair with his wife, an elaborate game of cat and mouse begins: the fun of the material lies in our continually shifting sense of which is which, modulated to perfection by Mankiewicz. Olivier was in the midst of great personal turmoil during the shoot—he was in the process of being fired from the artistic directorship of the National Theatre, which he had co-founded—but you would never know it from his spellbinding performance. As for Mankiewicz, it was a great way to go out.
Preserved by the Academy Film Archive. New 35mm print courtesy of the Academy.
Venue: New York Film Festival