Sunday, July 14th, 2013

In Celebration

This is a filmed adaptation of celebrated British playwright David Storey’s stage play that opened in London Royal Court Theatre in 1969.  Storey was a leading exponent of ‘kitchen sink drama’ which in the late 1960’s atypically was a style of social realism which often depicted the domestic situations of working-class Britons living in terraced hours in industrial towns and spending their off-hours drinking in grimy pubs, to explore social issues and political controversies.
Three brothers in their late 30’s have trekked up North to the small mining town they grew up to celebrate their parents 40th Wedding Anniversary. Aside from the fact that they were all well-educated and escaped to more prosperous lives in the South, the siblings seemingly have little in common.  The 24 hours that they are going to spend cooped up back in their parents small house on this very rare visit, will be taken up with a great deal of arguing and mutual resentment.  What starts with heated debates on politics, class, education and religion soon evolves into something much more personal and raises the animosity between them even higher.
Whilst all three have escaped their working class roots and, compared to their parents and neighbors, are financially successful, they are all deeply unhappy for differing reasons. Andrew the oldest and angriest, has given up his Legal Practice to become an artist, Steven the youngest and intrinsically silent and morose one is a school-teacher and a frustrated writer who has just abandoned the novel he had been working on for the past 10 years.  
It is however Colin the affluent middle son with his smart clothes and big car and is always showering his parents with gifts, who is the most intriguing. Almost 40 years old and not only a bachelor but with no girlfriend in sight even, he is the subject of much speculation, most of which is unspoken.  Coming just two years after the British Parliament had just decriminalized homosexual acts, the mere inclusion of Colin and his sexual identity, albeit never actually named, was a remarkably brave move. Credit to Storey too for avoiding those early stage/cinema stereotypes of gay characters and making him more than strong enough to hold his own with his siblings.
This 1974 movie was literally the stage play transported to a real 2 up 2 up down terrace house with the same actors who had created the characters.  The brothers were so convincingly played by very young Alan Bates, James Bolam and Brian Cox at the beginning of their very successful careers.  The mother was played by Constance Chapman a well known TV actress, and the father was played by veteran actor Bill Owen, who two years earlier had filmed his first ever ‘Last of the Summer Wine’ for British TV that not only made him famous but kept him in work for the next 25 years.
Both the play and movie were directed by Lindsay Anderson who also directed another five of David Storey’s stage plays.  One of which in 1971 was ‘The Changing Room’ which raised more than a few eyebrows with its excessive use of male nudity. Anderson also directed the movie version of that too.
P.S. Openly gay writer and author Gavin Lambert revealed after Anderson’s death in 1994 that he had been a repressed homosexual which may (?) be an inkling to why the role of Colin seemed so very real.

Posted by queerguru  at  17:59

Genres:  classic, drama

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