Quartet


1h 41m 1981

Brief Synopsis

When her husband's arrest leaves her penniless, a woman accepts an invitation to move in with a strange couple.

Film Details

Genre
Drama
Period
Adaptation
Release Date
1981
Production Company
Merchant/Ivory Productions
Distribution Company
20TH CENTURY FOX DISTRIBUTION/THE COHEN MEDIA GROUP (CMG); 20th Century Fox; 20th Century Fox Distribution

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 41m

Synopsis

An adaptation of Jean Rhys' novel. Set among artists and European elite of 1920s Paris, Marya becomes entangled in the hedonistic lifestyles of a wealthy English couple.

Crew

Isabelle Adjani

Song Performer ("Pars")

Elizabeth Aldrich

Choreography

Angelique Armand-delille

Picture Assistant

Humbert Balsan

Associate Producer

Bernard Bats

Sound Recording

Jean-pierre Berroyer

Hairstyles

Philippe Brun

Camera Operator

Jane Buck

Script Supervisor

Marta Carliski

Publicist

Jean-jacques Caziot

Art Direction

Robert Christides

Set Dresser

Alan Coddington

Sound Assistant

Jean-pierre Mahot De La Querantonnais

Producer

Jean Degramont

Other

Hugues Delaugardiere

2nd Assistant Director

Alain Depardieu

Production Controller

Sophie Desegur

Song Performer ("L'Air Design Bijoux")

Humphrey Dixon

Editor

Vic Flick

Music Director

Vic Flick

Music Arranger

Boris Gounod

Song ("L'Air Design Bijoux")

Luther Henderson

Song Arranger ("The 509" "Full-Time Lover")

Ruth Prawer Jhabvala

Screenwriter

Connie Kaiserman

Associate Producer

Richard King

Sound Rerecording

Alain Laude

Props

Jean Lenoir

Song ("Pars")

Mischa Levitsky

Music ("Arabesque Valsante")

Pierre Lhomme

Director Of Photography

Ken Lintott

Makeup

Kenneth Lintott

Makeup

Michel Maingois

Screenplay

Michel Maingois

French Dialogue

Tommy Manderson

Makeup

Francois Marcepoil

Other

Armelia Mcqueen

Song Performer ("The 509" "Full-Time Lover")

Ismail Merchant

Producer

Judy Moorcroft

Costumes

Hubert Niogret

Executive Producer

Mark Potter

Editor Assistant

Jacques Quinernet

Location Scout

Juan Quirno

Stills

David Renton

Sound Editor

Jean Rhys

Source Material (From Novel)

John Richards

Sound Recording (Music)

Sylvie Richez

Other

Richard Robbins

Music

Andre Thierry

Key Grip

Film Details

Genre
Drama
Period
Adaptation
Release Date
1981
Production Company
Merchant/Ivory Productions
Distribution Company
20TH CENTURY FOX DISTRIBUTION/THE COHEN MEDIA GROUP (CMG); 20th Century Fox; 20th Century Fox Distribution

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 41m

Articles

Quartet (1981)


Paris in the Twenties. It's one of those magical eras that's been romanticized many times on screen, most recently in Woody Allen's Midnight in Paris (2011). In 1981, the producer-director team of Ismail Merchant and James Ivory delved into that golden age with their film Quartet, based on a French novel that was actually written in the 1920s.

This tale is far more somber and moody than Woody Allen's romp, however: a passive young woman (Isabelle Adjani) is left penniless and desperate in Paris when her husband is jailed for art theft, and an English couple (Alan Bates and Maggie Smith) take her in -- but the hedonistic husband soon turns her into his mistress, which the wife unhappily tolerates.

The Jean Rhys novel on which this is based is autobiographical, published in 1928 but based on Rhys' experiences in Paris in 1922, when she was in her mid-twenties. Ivory discovered the novel when, at screenwriter Ruth Prawer Jhabvala's urging, he began reading many of Rhys' works. Quartet struck him particularly because of Ivory's own travels in Paris as long ago as 1950, a time when he spoke with people who had actually been there in the 1920s and could tell him what it had been like. Ivory also said in an interview that he was heavily inspired by John Glassco's Memoirs of Montparnasse, a vibrant account of 1920s Parisian life.

Ivory was very happy with his cast, later saying of Adjani, "She kept nothing back, veering from a tremulous joy to outbursts of hysterical scorn in the course of her characterization. Of my many heroines stuck on a dubious man, I would consider Marya, as played by Adjani, the most nakedly passionate."

Maggie Smith, as the desperate English wife, leaves perhaps the strongest impression. Hers was also the toughest role to cast. "Nobody wanted to play that part," recalled Ivory. "It went around to many actresses, both English and American, and they all turned it down. They said things like, 'It's so sick,' 'It's creepy,' and this kind of thing... a judgmental, moralistic thing. I remember that Julie Christie didn't want to do it; she made it sound unhealthy somehow. No doubt she was right. But it was still a very good part, which Maggie saw at once." Smith had long adored the novels of Jean Rhys and was thrilled to be a part of Quartet.

As in most Merchant-Ivory productions, Quartet's sets, costumes, makeup, period details and overall production values are excellent and authentic. The film was shot in Paris on a budget of $1.8 million, funded independently by a mixture of sources: Gaumont, 20th Century Fox in London, a French government agency, and even Roger Corman's production company, New World Pictures.

Ivory loved working in Paris. "It's a real pleasure to work with a French crew," he said. "Perhaps the greatest. In a very democratic way, they become one's artistic collaborators, every last man and woman, no matter how small their role.... Making Quartet turned out to be one of our most enjoyable shooting experiences. I had visited Paris and the rest of France all my adult life, but now I was to live there and be in close contact with French people of all different kinds. ... The atmosphere on set was quite special, quite serious. After we'd finished, Ismail and I wanted to get back there as soon as we could, but that didn't happen until Mr. and Mrs. Bridge (1990) in 1989 -- almost ten years later. And then we waited another four years before we could go back and do Jefferson in Paris (1995)."

Ivory continued, "I've always liked it. I think it was the first film in which I really hit my stride -- where there was a general harmony of theme, and of structure, as well as of photography and acting.... I think if one had to divide up my work into periods, Quartet might be the first in phase 2. Up to that film I took a more tentative and less disciplined approach, sometimes too hit-or-miss."

Critics were mixed. The New York Times' Vincent Canby wrote, "Miss Adjani tries hard, but she is no waif by any stretch of the imagination. She is too formidably strong and beautiful. She looks as if she could flatten both Heidlers with the back of one hand if she wanted to.... Quartet is handsome but, ultimately, weightless."

Ivory gave his own opinion of the Adjani criticism in an interview, saying, "You know, the sort of person who really looks like a helpless waif is sometimes not very interesting. And perhaps not very beautiful either. You need a bit of fire."

Adjani provided enough fire to win the Best Actress award at Cannes, but Quartet did not find much of an audience in America, possibly because of the rather grim subject matter and the themes of loneliness and entrapment. It could have been grimmer, however. Ruth Prawer Jhabvala wrote three different endings for the screenplay, and the two discarded versions had Adjani's husband getting out of jail and running off with another woman, and Adjani committing suicide. The filmed version is somewhat less bleak and not as melodramatic.

Producer: Jean-Pierre Mahot de la Querantonnais, Ismail Merchant
Director: James Ivory
Screenplay: Ruth Prawer Jhabvala (screenplay); James Ivory (screenplay, uncredited); Michel Maingois (French dialogue); Jean Rhys (novel)
Cinematography: Pierre Lhomme
Music: Richard Robbins
Film Editing: Humphrey Dixon
Cast: Alan Bates (H.J. Heidler), Maggie Smith (Lois Heidler), Isabelle Adjani (Marya 'Mado' Zelli), Anthony Higgins (Stephan Zelli), Pierre Clémenti (Théo the Pornographer), Suzanne Flon (Mme. Hautchamp), Daniel Mesquich (Pierre Schlamovitz), Sheila Gish (Anna), Armelia McQueen (Night Club Singer), Wiley Wood (Cairn).
C-101m.

by Jeremy Arnold

Sources:
Robert Emmet Long, The Films of Merchant Ivory
Robert Emmet Long, James Ivory in Conversation
Quartet (1981)

Quartet (1981)

Paris in the Twenties. It's one of those magical eras that's been romanticized many times on screen, most recently in Woody Allen's Midnight in Paris (2011). In 1981, the producer-director team of Ismail Merchant and James Ivory delved into that golden age with their film Quartet, based on a French novel that was actually written in the 1920s. This tale is far more somber and moody than Woody Allen's romp, however: a passive young woman (Isabelle Adjani) is left penniless and desperate in Paris when her husband is jailed for art theft, and an English couple (Alan Bates and Maggie Smith) take her in -- but the hedonistic husband soon turns her into his mistress, which the wife unhappily tolerates. The Jean Rhys novel on which this is based is autobiographical, published in 1928 but based on Rhys' experiences in Paris in 1922, when she was in her mid-twenties. Ivory discovered the novel when, at screenwriter Ruth Prawer Jhabvala's urging, he began reading many of Rhys' works. Quartet struck him particularly because of Ivory's own travels in Paris as long ago as 1950, a time when he spoke with people who had actually been there in the 1920s and could tell him what it had been like. Ivory also said in an interview that he was heavily inspired by John Glassco's Memoirs of Montparnasse, a vibrant account of 1920s Parisian life. Ivory was very happy with his cast, later saying of Adjani, "She kept nothing back, veering from a tremulous joy to outbursts of hysterical scorn in the course of her characterization. Of my many heroines stuck on a dubious man, I would consider Marya, as played by Adjani, the most nakedly passionate." Maggie Smith, as the desperate English wife, leaves perhaps the strongest impression. Hers was also the toughest role to cast. "Nobody wanted to play that part," recalled Ivory. "It went around to many actresses, both English and American, and they all turned it down. They said things like, 'It's so sick,' 'It's creepy,' and this kind of thing... a judgmental, moralistic thing. I remember that Julie Christie didn't want to do it; she made it sound unhealthy somehow. No doubt she was right. But it was still a very good part, which Maggie saw at once." Smith had long adored the novels of Jean Rhys and was thrilled to be a part of Quartet. As in most Merchant-Ivory productions, Quartet's sets, costumes, makeup, period details and overall production values are excellent and authentic. The film was shot in Paris on a budget of $1.8 million, funded independently by a mixture of sources: Gaumont, 20th Century Fox in London, a French government agency, and even Roger Corman's production company, New World Pictures. Ivory loved working in Paris. "It's a real pleasure to work with a French crew," he said. "Perhaps the greatest. In a very democratic way, they become one's artistic collaborators, every last man and woman, no matter how small their role.... Making Quartet turned out to be one of our most enjoyable shooting experiences. I had visited Paris and the rest of France all my adult life, but now I was to live there and be in close contact with French people of all different kinds. ... The atmosphere on set was quite special, quite serious. After we'd finished, Ismail and I wanted to get back there as soon as we could, but that didn't happen until Mr. and Mrs. Bridge (1990) in 1989 -- almost ten years later. And then we waited another four years before we could go back and do Jefferson in Paris (1995)." Ivory continued, "I've always liked it. I think it was the first film in which I really hit my stride -- where there was a general harmony of theme, and of structure, as well as of photography and acting.... I think if one had to divide up my work into periods, Quartet might be the first in phase 2. Up to that film I took a more tentative and less disciplined approach, sometimes too hit-or-miss." Critics were mixed. The New York Times' Vincent Canby wrote, "Miss Adjani tries hard, but she is no waif by any stretch of the imagination. She is too formidably strong and beautiful. She looks as if she could flatten both Heidlers with the back of one hand if she wanted to.... Quartet is handsome but, ultimately, weightless." Ivory gave his own opinion of the Adjani criticism in an interview, saying, "You know, the sort of person who really looks like a helpless waif is sometimes not very interesting. And perhaps not very beautiful either. You need a bit of fire." Adjani provided enough fire to win the Best Actress award at Cannes, but Quartet did not find much of an audience in America, possibly because of the rather grim subject matter and the themes of loneliness and entrapment. It could have been grimmer, however. Ruth Prawer Jhabvala wrote three different endings for the screenplay, and the two discarded versions had Adjani's husband getting out of jail and running off with another woman, and Adjani committing suicide. The filmed version is somewhat less bleak and not as melodramatic. Producer: Jean-Pierre Mahot de la Querantonnais, Ismail Merchant Director: James Ivory Screenplay: Ruth Prawer Jhabvala (screenplay); James Ivory (screenplay, uncredited); Michel Maingois (French dialogue); Jean Rhys (novel) Cinematography: Pierre Lhomme Music: Richard Robbins Film Editing: Humphrey Dixon Cast: Alan Bates (H.J. Heidler), Maggie Smith (Lois Heidler), Isabelle Adjani (Marya 'Mado' Zelli), Anthony Higgins (Stephan Zelli), Pierre Clémenti (Théo the Pornographer), Suzanne Flon (Mme. Hautchamp), Daniel Mesquich (Pierre Schlamovitz), Sheila Gish (Anna), Armelia McQueen (Night Club Singer), Wiley Wood (Cairn). C-101m. by Jeremy Arnold Sources: Robert Emmet Long, The Films of Merchant Ivory Robert Emmet Long, James Ivory in Conversation

Quartet on DVD


Though it took the 1984 huge art house favorite A Room with a View to bring the term "Merchant-Ivory" into the pop culture lexicon, James Ivory and Ismail Merchant were already well-versed in stylish, incisive period pieces thanks to films like Heat and Dust, The Bostonians, and the earlier Quartet, the most unsettling and sexually provocative film of their careers (well, perhaps next to Maurice). The gorgeous Isabelle Adjani stars as Marya, a submissive Parisian whose husband, Stephan (The Draughtsman's Contract's Anthony Higgins), is jailed for art fraud. During visits to prison, she is encouraged to survive at any cost and decides to take up with older society staples H.J. and Lois Heidler (Alan Bates and Maggie Smith), whose open marriage allows Marya to enter their circle as H.J.'s mistress. Her "benefactors" gradually assume an unnerving amount of control over Marya's life, while she spends the rest of her time sampling the delights of Paris society including underground erotic photography and all-night drinking parties at nightclubs.

While Adjani is sometimes cited as the weak link in this film, she's actually quite persuasive and a haunting presence as the passive Marya, a childlike blank slate who submits to the wills of anyone around here. Remarkably, she was named Best Actress at the Cannes Film Festival in a joint nod to both this film and her simultaneous turn as the hysterical, monster-copulating housewife in Andrzej Zulawski's Possession; try pairing up both films for the most mind-bending look at marital hell imaginable. Smith and Bates are never less than exceptional, of course, and the period detail is executed with the filmmaker's usual eye for beguiling detail; you won't find another flapper-era film quite like it.

Based on a semi-autobiographical novel by Jean Rhys (Wide Sargasso Sea), the story still feels transgressive as it offers no easy moral solutions or a defining moment where our protagonist suddenly asserts her heroic independence; not unlike Roman Polanski's The Pianist, this is more a story of mundane day-to-day struggling by an everyman than an inspirational story of "beating the odds" with a feel-good climax. Though less influential than subsequent Merchant-Ivory films, Quartet can be seen as the predecessor for such similar dramas as Breaking the Waves and The Comfort of Strangers which explore the idea of infidelity from a complex, morally ambiguous point of view. On a more sensory level, regular Merchant-Ivory composer Richard Robbins really outdoes himself here, offering a lyrical score that ranks with Howards End as one of his best.

A fine if modest entry in the ongoing line of Merchant-Ivory titles in conjunction with Criterion, Quartet receives a fine anamorphic transfer that perfectly replicates the fine, powdery textures of the original cinematography; toss out those old Warner VHS tapes right away. The most substantial extra is an 11-minute featurette, Conversation with the Filmmakers, in which Ivory, Merchant, and regular (brilliant) screenwriter Ruth Prawer Jhabyala discuss the film's origins and production with a focus on maintaining the period look under surprisingly challenging circumstances. The disc also includes trailers for this film along with Heat and Dust, The Bostonians, The Europeans, and Shakespeare Wallah.

For more information about Quartet, visit Home Vision Entertainment. To order Quartet, go to TCM Shopping.

by Nathaniel Thompson

Quartet on DVD

Though it took the 1984 huge art house favorite A Room with a View to bring the term "Merchant-Ivory" into the pop culture lexicon, James Ivory and Ismail Merchant were already well-versed in stylish, incisive period pieces thanks to films like Heat and Dust, The Bostonians, and the earlier Quartet, the most unsettling and sexually provocative film of their careers (well, perhaps next to Maurice). The gorgeous Isabelle Adjani stars as Marya, a submissive Parisian whose husband, Stephan (The Draughtsman's Contract's Anthony Higgins), is jailed for art fraud. During visits to prison, she is encouraged to survive at any cost and decides to take up with older society staples H.J. and Lois Heidler (Alan Bates and Maggie Smith), whose open marriage allows Marya to enter their circle as H.J.'s mistress. Her "benefactors" gradually assume an unnerving amount of control over Marya's life, while she spends the rest of her time sampling the delights of Paris society including underground erotic photography and all-night drinking parties at nightclubs. While Adjani is sometimes cited as the weak link in this film, she's actually quite persuasive and a haunting presence as the passive Marya, a childlike blank slate who submits to the wills of anyone around here. Remarkably, she was named Best Actress at the Cannes Film Festival in a joint nod to both this film and her simultaneous turn as the hysterical, monster-copulating housewife in Andrzej Zulawski's Possession; try pairing up both films for the most mind-bending look at marital hell imaginable. Smith and Bates are never less than exceptional, of course, and the period detail is executed with the filmmaker's usual eye for beguiling detail; you won't find another flapper-era film quite like it. Based on a semi-autobiographical novel by Jean Rhys (Wide Sargasso Sea), the story still feels transgressive as it offers no easy moral solutions or a defining moment where our protagonist suddenly asserts her heroic independence; not unlike Roman Polanski's The Pianist, this is more a story of mundane day-to-day struggling by an everyman than an inspirational story of "beating the odds" with a feel-good climax. Though less influential than subsequent Merchant-Ivory films, Quartet can be seen as the predecessor for such similar dramas as Breaking the Waves and The Comfort of Strangers which explore the idea of infidelity from a complex, morally ambiguous point of view. On a more sensory level, regular Merchant-Ivory composer Richard Robbins really outdoes himself here, offering a lyrical score that ranks with Howards End as one of his best. A fine if modest entry in the ongoing line of Merchant-Ivory titles in conjunction with Criterion, Quartet receives a fine anamorphic transfer that perfectly replicates the fine, powdery textures of the original cinematography; toss out those old Warner VHS tapes right away. The most substantial extra is an 11-minute featurette, Conversation with the Filmmakers, in which Ivory, Merchant, and regular (brilliant) screenwriter Ruth Prawer Jhabyala discuss the film's origins and production with a focus on maintaining the period look under surprisingly challenging circumstances. The disc also includes trailers for this film along with Heat and Dust, The Bostonians, The Europeans, and Shakespeare Wallah. For more information about Quartet, visit Home Vision Entertainment. To order Quartet, go to TCM Shopping. by Nathaniel Thompson

Sir Alan Bates (1934-2003)


Sir Alan Bates, the versatile British actor, who held a distinguished career on both stage and screen, via a string of outstanding roles in both classical (Shakespeare, Chekhov, Ibsen) and contemporary (Pinter, Osborne, Stoppard) drama, died of pancreatic cancer on December 27th in London. He was 69.

Born Alan Arthur Bates on February 17th, 1934 in Derbyshire, England, Bates was the son of amateur musicians who wanted their son to become a concert pianist, but the young man had other ambitions, bluntly declaring to his parents that he had his sights set on an acting career when he was still in secondary school. He eventually earned a scholarship to the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts in London, but had his career briefly interrupted with a two-year stint in the Royal Air Force. Soon after his discharge, Bates immediately joined the new English Stage Company at the Royal Court Theatre and by 1955 he had found steady stage work in London's West End theatre district.

The following year, Bates made a notable mark in English theatre circles when he starred as Cliff Lewis in John Osborne's charging drama about a disaffected, working-class British youth in Look Back in Anger. Bates' enormous stage presence along with his brooding good looks and youthfulness (he was only 22 at the time of the play's run) made him a star and promised great things for his future.

Four years later, Bates made a solid film debut in Tony Richardson's The Entertainer (1960) as the son of a failing seaside entertainer, played by Sir Laurence Olivier. Yet it would be his next two films that would leave an indelible impression in '60s British cinema; Bryan Forbes' Whistle Down the Wind (1961) and John Schlesinger's A Kind of Loving (1962). Bates' performances as a murderer on the lam who finds solace at a farm house in the company of children in the former, and a young working-class husband who struggles with his identity in a loveless marriage in the latter, were such finely nuanced portrayals of loners coping with an oppressive social order that he struck a chord with both audiences and critics alike. Soon, Bates was considered a key actor in the "angry young men" movement of the decade that included Albert Finney and Tom Courtney.

For the next ten years, Bates simply moved from strength to strength as he chose film roles that both highlighted his range and raised his stock as an international celebrity: reprising his stage role as the brutish thug Mick in the film adaptation of Harold Pinter's The Caretaker (1963); starring alongside Anthony Quinn as the impressionable young writer Basil in Zorba the Greek (1964); the raffish charmer Jos who falls in love with Lynn Redgrave in the mod comedy Georgy Girl; the bemused young soldier who falls in love with a young mental patient (a radiantly young Genevieve Bujold) in the subdued anti-was satire King of Hearts (both 1966); reuniting with director Schlesinger again in the effective period drama Far from the Madding Crowd (1967); a Russian Jew falsely accused of murder in John Frankenheimer's The Fixer (1968, remarkably, his only Oscar nomination); as Rupert, the freethinking fellow who craves love and understanding in Ken Russell's superb Women in Love (1969); playing Vershinin in Sir Laurence Olivier's underrated The Three Sisters (1970); opposite Julie Christie in Joseph Losey's tale of forbidden love The Go-Between (1971); and his moving, near-tragic performance as Bri, a father who struggles daily to maintain his sanity while raising a mentally disabled daughter in the snarking black comedy A Day in the Death of Joe Egg (1972).

Bates would slow down his film work, concentrating on the stage for the next few years, including a Tony award winning turn on Broadway for his role in Butley (1972), but he reemerged strongly in the late '70s in three good films: a conniving womanizer in The Shout; Jill Clayburgh's love interest in Paul Mazursky's hit An Unmarried Woman (1978); and as Rudge, Bette Midler's overbearing manager in The Rose (1979).

By the '80s, Bates filled out somewhat physically, but his now burly presence looked just right in some quality roles: as the notorious spy, Guy Burgess, in John Schlesinger's acclaimed mini-series An Englishman Abroad (1983); a lonely homosexual who cares for his incarcerated lovers' dog in the charming comedy We think the World of You (1988); and a superb Claudius in Franco Zeffirelli's Hamlet (1990).

Tragically, Bates lost his son Tristan to an asthma attack in 1990; and lost his wife, actress Victoria Ward, in 1992. This led to too few film roles for the next several years, although he remained quite active on stage and television. However, just recently, Bates has had some choice moments on the silver screen, most notably as the butler Mr. Jennings in Robert Altman's murder mystery Gosford Park (2001); and scored a great comic coup as a gun-toting, flag-waving Hollywood has-been in a very broad satire about the Canadian movie industry Hollywood North (2003). Also, theatre fans had a treat when Bates appeared on Broadway last year to critical acclaim (and won a second Tony award) for his portrayal of an impoverished 19th century Russian nobleman in Fortune's Fool (2002). Most deservedly, he was knighted earlier this year for his fine contributions as an actor in all major mediums. Sir Alan Bates is survived by two brothers Martin and Jon, son Benedick and a granddaughter.

by Michael T. Toole

Sir Alan Bates (1934-2003)

Sir Alan Bates, the versatile British actor, who held a distinguished career on both stage and screen, via a string of outstanding roles in both classical (Shakespeare, Chekhov, Ibsen) and contemporary (Pinter, Osborne, Stoppard) drama, died of pancreatic cancer on December 27th in London. He was 69. Born Alan Arthur Bates on February 17th, 1934 in Derbyshire, England, Bates was the son of amateur musicians who wanted their son to become a concert pianist, but the young man had other ambitions, bluntly declaring to his parents that he had his sights set on an acting career when he was still in secondary school. He eventually earned a scholarship to the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts in London, but had his career briefly interrupted with a two-year stint in the Royal Air Force. Soon after his discharge, Bates immediately joined the new English Stage Company at the Royal Court Theatre and by 1955 he had found steady stage work in London's West End theatre district. The following year, Bates made a notable mark in English theatre circles when he starred as Cliff Lewis in John Osborne's charging drama about a disaffected, working-class British youth in Look Back in Anger. Bates' enormous stage presence along with his brooding good looks and youthfulness (he was only 22 at the time of the play's run) made him a star and promised great things for his future. Four years later, Bates made a solid film debut in Tony Richardson's The Entertainer (1960) as the son of a failing seaside entertainer, played by Sir Laurence Olivier. Yet it would be his next two films that would leave an indelible impression in '60s British cinema; Bryan Forbes' Whistle Down the Wind (1961) and John Schlesinger's A Kind of Loving (1962). Bates' performances as a murderer on the lam who finds solace at a farm house in the company of children in the former, and a young working-class husband who struggles with his identity in a loveless marriage in the latter, were such finely nuanced portrayals of loners coping with an oppressive social order that he struck a chord with both audiences and critics alike. Soon, Bates was considered a key actor in the "angry young men" movement of the decade that included Albert Finney and Tom Courtney. For the next ten years, Bates simply moved from strength to strength as he chose film roles that both highlighted his range and raised his stock as an international celebrity: reprising his stage role as the brutish thug Mick in the film adaptation of Harold Pinter's The Caretaker (1963); starring alongside Anthony Quinn as the impressionable young writer Basil in Zorba the Greek (1964); the raffish charmer Jos who falls in love with Lynn Redgrave in the mod comedy Georgy Girl; the bemused young soldier who falls in love with a young mental patient (a radiantly young Genevieve Bujold) in the subdued anti-was satire King of Hearts (both 1966); reuniting with director Schlesinger again in the effective period drama Far from the Madding Crowd (1967); a Russian Jew falsely accused of murder in John Frankenheimer's The Fixer (1968, remarkably, his only Oscar nomination); as Rupert, the freethinking fellow who craves love and understanding in Ken Russell's superb Women in Love (1969); playing Vershinin in Sir Laurence Olivier's underrated The Three Sisters (1970); opposite Julie Christie in Joseph Losey's tale of forbidden love The Go-Between (1971); and his moving, near-tragic performance as Bri, a father who struggles daily to maintain his sanity while raising a mentally disabled daughter in the snarking black comedy A Day in the Death of Joe Egg (1972). Bates would slow down his film work, concentrating on the stage for the next few years, including a Tony award winning turn on Broadway for his role in Butley (1972), but he reemerged strongly in the late '70s in three good films: a conniving womanizer in The Shout; Jill Clayburgh's love interest in Paul Mazursky's hit An Unmarried Woman (1978); and as Rudge, Bette Midler's overbearing manager in The Rose (1979). By the '80s, Bates filled out somewhat physically, but his now burly presence looked just right in some quality roles: as the notorious spy, Guy Burgess, in John Schlesinger's acclaimed mini-series An Englishman Abroad (1983); a lonely homosexual who cares for his incarcerated lovers' dog in the charming comedy We think the World of You (1988); and a superb Claudius in Franco Zeffirelli's Hamlet (1990). Tragically, Bates lost his son Tristan to an asthma attack in 1990; and lost his wife, actress Victoria Ward, in 1992. This led to too few film roles for the next several years, although he remained quite active on stage and television. However, just recently, Bates has had some choice moments on the silver screen, most notably as the butler Mr. Jennings in Robert Altman's murder mystery Gosford Park (2001); and scored a great comic coup as a gun-toting, flag-waving Hollywood has-been in a very broad satire about the Canadian movie industry Hollywood North (2003). Also, theatre fans had a treat when Bates appeared on Broadway last year to critical acclaim (and won a second Tony award) for his portrayal of an impoverished 19th century Russian nobleman in Fortune's Fool (2002). Most deservedly, he was knighted earlier this year for his fine contributions as an actor in all major mediums. Sir Alan Bates is survived by two brothers Martin and Jon, son Benedick and a granddaughter. by Michael T. Toole

Quotes

Trivia

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States Winter January 1, 1981

Released in United States on Video October 24, 2000

Released in United States June 16, 1990

Released in United States 1999

Shown at Avignon/New York Film Festival in New York City (French Institute) April 22 - May 2, 1999.

Released in United States Winter January 1, 1981

Released in United States on Video October 24, 2000

Released in United States June 16, 1990 (Shown as part of the series "The Films of Merchant Ivory" Los Angeles, June 16, 1990.)

Released in United States 1999 (Shown at Avignon/New York Film Festival in New York City (French Institute) April 22 - May 2, 1999.)