August 21, 2011

Queer Review: Entertaining Mr. Sloane (1970)

Entertaining Mr. Sloane
Director: Douglas Hickox
Writers: Clive Exton. Based upon the play by Joe Orton.
Cast: Beryl Reid, Harry Andrews, Peter McEnery, Alan Webb

As dark comedies go, Entertaining Mr. Sloane is a well done British confection. The best parts are the interesting cinematography and the low key, yet rather brilliant performances.

When we first meet the mysterious Mr. Sloane (Peter McEnery), he's doing situps in a graveyard. While some might consider this a warning sign, Kath (Beryl Reid) decides to take him in and put him up as a boarder. This plan is objected to by her father (Alan Webb) who recognizes Mr. Sloane as the individual who murdered his former boss. Kath's brother, Ed (Harry Andrews), also objects at first, but he too is quickly taken in by Mr. Sloane and even goes so far as to hire the strange man as a chauffeur.

The Queering
I would guess that Entertaining Mr. Sloane was inspired by the Ealing Comedies of the 1950's and 40's as the tone here is remarkably similar to many of their the movies such as Kind Hearts and Coronets and The Ladykillers. In any case, those who enjoyed the Ealing Studio comedies will find much to appreciate here as well.

Entertaining Mr. Sloane was first a play by Joe Orton, but one would probably never guess the movie's theatrical origins thanks to some imaginative camerawork and a brisk plot. There is also some great acting by all of the leads. Beryl Reid plays the ditzy Kath with aplomb. There are a couple of scenes where Reid manages to suggest that Kath is actually smarter then she appears and that she is simply playing dumb to manipulate the male characters. As Mr. Sloane, Peter McEnery makes the perfect smarmy bastard. Harry Andrews' is perfect as Ed, the uptight closeted gay British Gentlemen who drives a pink Cadillac.

Speaking of Ed, due to the standards of the day, outside of the ending, there are no scenes where his sexuality is stated. Although there are a few clever bits of highly suggestive dialogue between him and Mr. Sloane that make Ed's sexuality clear as day, without being explicit.

The ending by the way, has been given in every description of Entertaining Mr. Sloane that I have read. Not sure why that is, other than to say it is not much of an issue as most of the fun is getting there. Suspense is never much of an issue, outside of a couple of points here and there, as much of what happens is fairly predictable. But for people who are paranoid of spoilers, be warned when reading anything about this movie.

Recommended, this is a movie that will be entertaining for anybody who sees it, not just Mr. Sloane.

The Rating

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