by Roderick Conway Morris

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Roger the Lodger

By Roderick Conway Morris
VENICE 20 June 1997


Directed by Philip Goodhew. U.K.

Genteel, bossy homebody Marjorie Beasley seems the unlikely mainspring of a torrid affair that ends in a double murder, but here she is, played with razor-sharp observation and excruciating verisimilitude by Julie Walters in a black comedy of this real-life, sensational case of the mid-1950s. Marjorie, in her early 50s, is married to Stanley (Matthew Walker), an older man who had a leg blown off in the first war and who has the revolting habit of removing his artificial limb and polishing the shoe attached to it at the breakfast table. Intimate relations have long since ceased between the couple, but Marjorie has the consolation of a perky 14-year-old daughter, her 'late blessing' (Laura Sadler), and Stanley the company of an old male hound called 'Princess Margaret.' Into the menage walks lodger Harold Guppy (Rupert Graves), who has been brought up in state institutions, but after a spell in the navy has turned into an attractive, eager-to-please, but perilously naive young man. Marjorie develops an uncontrollable lust for Harold, but the only way of buying Joyce's silence is to admit her to the bedroom as an observer. The casting and performances are excellent, many scenes wickedly funny and the disastrous denouement as bizarre as the events that lead up to it.

First published: International Herald Tribune

© Roderick Conway Morris 1975-2023