Wednesday, 4 January 2012

"I’m in the rude under this dress"

From Cinedelica:
It's still very much a play in all but name - the limited cast of just four main characters, the almost farce-like plot and the limited number of location shots. All the action revolves around Mr Sloane, a hip teen played with some style (and occasional menace) by Peter McEnery. He's "adopted" by Kath (Beryl Reid), a mature woman still in mourning for her long-dead lover and despite the concerns of her "Dadda" - who believes he knows Mr Sloane as the murderer of a past acquaintance.

But there's another problem - Mr Sloane also catches the eye of Kath's brother Ed (played superbly by Harry Andrews), a slightly camp man who drives a large pink US car and has no time at all for the role of women in society. Ed wants Mr Sloane to come under his wing and follow his example - and for personal gain, Sloane is all too willing. And as the adoration for him grows, Sloane starts to play brother and sister off each other for further gain - until things start to go very wrong.
Entertaining Mr Sloane was one of only two plays from the warped imagination of our icon Joe Orton to receive a screen adaptation (the other being Loot), and, like much of his work - on stage and off - received a mixed reception.

In my opinion, the bravura performances of the magnificently camp Beryl Reid, the tongue-in-cheek Harry Andrews and the sexy-yet-menacing Peter McEnery lift the movie above any accusations of "staginess" or "lack of sympathy". Their characterisations have exactly the right balance of sleaze and obsessiveness that Joe's monstrous creations - surely an influence on later "monsters" in the works of Peter Barnes or Mike Leigh - need in order for the film to succeed.
"What have you to offer? You're fat and the crow's-feet under your eyes would make you an object of terror."

"I’ve been doing my washing today and I haven’t a stitch on... except my shoes... I’m in the rude under this dress. I tell you because you’re bound to have noticed..."
Monsters or no, this movie remains one of my favourites of its type, and I believe its artistry fits perfectly between the demise of the era of censorship at the end of the 60s and the smuttiness yet to come in the 70s.

Entertaining Mr Sloane was released just three years after Joe - who would have been 79 years old on 1st January 2012 - was murdered by Ken. I wish he had lived to see it. I think he too would have approved!


  1. This is a great film and Beryl Reid, as always, is magnificent.

    1. Her crowning moment, indeed! Jx


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