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Product Details

In this 1983 Peter Yates film, Albert Finney turns in one of the best performances of his distinguished career. He plays "Sir," the tyrannical manager and lead actor of a touring Shakespearean company that continues to perform during bombing raids against England during World War II. One day after a staging of King Lear, Finney makes an unsettling discovery: His own life strangely parallels the tragic life of Lear, the self-centered monarch who isolates himself with his pride, arrogance, and arbitrary demands. Like Lear, Finney realizes late in life that he is "as full of grief as age; wretched in both." He seeks solace in alcohol. But the show must go on, and it is Finney's backstage assistant, Norman Tom Courtenay, who gives him the heart to persevere. Norman is the "dresser," the liegeman who does everything for Sir -- from helping him into his costumes and reminding him of his lines to steeling him against stagefright and fear of failure. He is like Lear's jester -- listening, advising, warning, and sometimes irritating his master. Sir needs Norman. Norman needs Sir. And as the concussion of German bombs shakes the theatre, Finney rages across the theatre stage as an angry Lear while Norman creates backstage thunder by pounding on drums and rattling a sheet of metal. The audience watches in thrall, thumbing their noses at Hitler for a chance to experience Shakespeare. The Oscar nominations the film earned -- for best picture, best director, best actor (Finney and Courtenay), and best screenplay (Ronald Harwood) -- were well deserved.

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Transferred in the widescreen format, The Dresser features its English soundtrack in Dolby Digital Stereo. Optional English subtitles are also provided.

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CO19184 Dresser, The DVD (1983/Albert Finney) $14.95