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The American Film Theatre has made movies of a number of significant theatrical performances, including Laurence Olivier's Othello. Another of these filmed theatricals is Simon Gray's Butley, which was brought to the screen by playwright Harold Pinter, and which features an astonishing performance by Alan Bates. The story focuses on one very bad day in the life of Butley (Bates), a feisty, sharp-tongued, lazy and pathetic professor of English. His professional ascendancy is challenged by a slick, accomplished woman many years his junior; his ex-wife gives him conniptions when she announces her remarriage to someone he cannot bear; and his male lover of several years chooses this time to announce that he is leaving him for a sweeter-tempered but very ordinary man of the sort Butley despises. Bleak though this sounds, Butley's unconquerable wit and biting repartee transform this otherwise tragic tale into something of a celebration of survival.
"Simon Gray and Butley," an essay by Michael Feingold, Chief Theatre Critic, The Village Voice
The AFT Cinebill for Butley
An interview with Edie Landau: Executive in Charge, the American Film Theatre
Ely Landau: In Front of the Camera - AFT promotional reel (1974)
The American Film Theatre trailer gallery - includes a complete list of AFT films