Pinter on Screen

Presented in partnership with Chiswick Book Festival, Pinter on Screen runs exclusively at Chiswick Cinema until September 2024. Season curated by Michael Billington in collaboration with Torin Douglas and Chris Parker.

“Harold Pinter is a celebrated dramatist. But he was also a prolific screenwriter and this season – prompted by a remark made by Antonia Fraser at the Chiswick Book Festival – is a celebration of his work for the cinema. In fact, Pinter was devoted to movies from an early age. As a schoolboy, he supported a Debating Society motion that film was a more promising art-form than theatre and, as a teenager, he was a member of a Hackney film club where he saw the best of French, German and Russian cinema.

The season, which runs until September, contains a rich feast. Fall to and enjoy.”
Michael Billington
“Harold Pinter wrote The Caretaker when he lived in Chiswick and in 2020 the Chiswick Book Festival invited Antonia Fraser and Michael Billington to discuss his work and our memories of him. Antonia said she felt Harold’s screenwriting had been overshadowed and she hoped that his screen work might one day be celebrated in a season of films for the general public. We are delighted we can now make this happen.– Torin Douglas

Accident + Season Launch Night Q&A

“Based on a novel by Nicholas Mosley, Pinter’s script explores the emotional havoc caused by a beautiful Austrian princess during an idyllic Oxford summer. With masterly precision, the film captures the disruptive effect the girl has on her student fiance and the lives of two male dons. Arguably the best of the Losey-Pinter trilogy, the film won the Grand Prix Special du Jury at Cannes.”


“Pinter’s adaptation of Penelope Mortimer’s novel offers a subtle exploration of the female psyche. The heroine- superbly played by Bancroft- is surrounded by women who gush about her writer-husband’s creative sensitivity while she has to live with his moral indifference. Watch out for a scene-stealing performance by Maggie Smith.”


“At a time when Berlin-based Cold War films were all the rage, Pinter came up with an exceptional example. Radically changing Adam Hall’s original novel, Pinter makes his hero a mysterious American caught between his manipulative British spymasters- memorably embodied by Alec Guinness- and an insidious group of neo-Nazis. A compelling film that has gained more resonance with time.”


“Venice has always been a popular setting for movies but rarely has it seemed more sinister than in Pinter’s seductive version of an Ian McEwan novel. The story shows a glamorous young English couple drawn into a world of labyrinthine decadence. What Pinter adds to the original’s sexual strangeness is an implicit connection between patriarchal values and political absolutism.”


“Pinter’s first big stage success was successfully filmed with the Chiswick-based Donald Pleasence repeating his role as a querulous tramp who intervenes in the lives of two brothers. Shot on location in Pinter’s native Hackney, the film opened out the play without destroying its domestic power-battles and was partly financed by an impressive group of showbiz names including Noel Coward, Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor.”

Chiswick Book Festival:

“Pinter faced a big problem in adapting John Fowles’s novel in which a pastiche Victorian romance is combined with post-modern commentary. At Reisz’s suggestion, Pinter drew a fascinating parallel between the fictive characters and the actors playing them. With the help of fine performances from Streep and Irons, the film was glowingly reviewed, was nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars and was hailed as “superb” by none other than Joseph Losey.”