UK, 1967 (MIFF 1968, Programme 7)
Director: Albert Finney
Albert Finney directs and stars as Charlie Bubbles, a successful writer, caught in the ennui of material success.
He married too young—to Lottie (Billie Whitelaw)—and has housed his now divorced wife and son on a farm near the "old home town", a drab industrial area.
Charlie lives in a large house in London, looked after by the Noseworlhys. From his study, he surveys his domain through closed-circuit television. An almost detestable young American writer, Eliza (Liza Minnelli), plays his secretary-cum-mislress. Through Eliza, Shelagh Delaney (who also wrote the script of Taste of Honey), voices the cliches of those on the energetic fringe of creativity, Others surrounding Charlie convey attitudes of malice or derision towards the writer whose success they hold lo be a matter of luck, more than work and worth.
The play of corrosive forces on Charlie, is the meat of this film. Boredom takes him on a binge with his one friend, Smokey Pickles—a thoroughly disgusting and convincing scene. He visits his wife and son: this piovides a comment on what might have been, and changes the tone of the film in preparation for a delightfully conceived finale.
Finney has offered a mood piece on an anti-success theme. His own performance as the restless Charlie is excellent. It is a product of integrity, and is immensely entertaining. Most of the humour ends on a sour note; an appropriate device in this essentially thoughtful film.