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cast: John Gielgud, Ralph Richardson, Warren Clarke, Mona Washbourne and Dandy Nichols

director: Lindsay Anderson

88 minutes (PG) 1971 widescreen Academy ratio
Metrodome Ovation DVD Region 2 retail
Also available to buy on video

RATING: 5/10
reviewed by Barry Forshaw
The American Film Theatre was something of a misnomer: these filmed performances from the 1970s of some of the greatest modern plays ever written were by no means exclusively American. But the wealth of acting talent that producer Eli Landau drew upon was unsurpassed, and directors, too, were strictly top-drawer. Take this intriguing version of David Storey's Home: apart from the copper-bottomed duo of theatrical knights Gielgud and Richardson (both elderly, but still offering acting of a quality rarely seen today), there's solid distaff support from Mona Washbourne and Dandy Nichols, with even a Clockwork Orange-era Warren Clarke as a brutish, mentally disturbed young man. And the director is Lindsay Anderson, of If... (1968) and This Sporting Life (1963) fame.
   The point in Home, of course, is that everyone here is mentally disturbed: the eponymous home is a mental institution, and Gielgud and Richardson are two middle-class professional men, eagerly shoring up each other's fragile illusions in a decrepit garden of the institution (doctors or guards are not to be seen). The cruel shredding of the men's tenuously created world by two coarse and stupid cockney women (beautifully characterised by Washbourne and Nicholls) constitutes Act II, before a bleak, desperate re-establishing of illusion closes the play.
   Unlike another entry in the series, a stunningly played version of Pinter's The Homecoming, time has not been kind to Storey's play. But there are some wonderfully funny exchanges between the two knights, and playing like this is worth seeking out - even in a print that apologises for the inadequacy of its picture limitations.
   Disc extras are biographies of Gielgud, Richardson and Storey, along with director Anderson (then at his peak); the amount of interesting information is matched by a Guardian-style slew of typos.
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