BILLY LIAR
1963, Rialto Pictures, 98 min, UK, Dir: John Schlesinger

Tom Courtenay is wonderful as the frustrated, imaginative young man prone to flights of fancy - which also lead him to lie about nearly everything, whether he feels he needs to or not. This gets him in hot water with his stern father and his two very different girlfriends, not to mention his undertaker bosses, though his fast wit make his ambitions as scriptwriter for a TV host seem almost plausible. But when finally confronted with an opportunity to leave home and go to London with free-spirited friend Julie Christie (in her stunning feature film debut), we’re left to wonder whether Billy’s Walter Mitty-ish dreams are models for the future or an escape from reality.


THE BIRTHDAY PARTY
1968, Disney, 127 min, USA, Dir: William Friedkin

Based on Harold Pinter’s celebrated play, THE BIRTHDAY PARTY stars the great Robert Shaw as Stanley, the put-upon tenant - with the menacingly enigmatic Patrick Magee and Sydney Tafler as the unwelcome strangers out to make Shaw’s barely marginal life a perfect hell. An underrated master of adapting stage drama to film (see THE BOYS IN THE BAND), Friedkin pushes Pinter’s savage material to the limit here, creating an unnerving sense of despair and paranoia.


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