Nearly 31 years ago David Jones‘ Betrayal opened theatrically in the U.S. (On 2.18.83, to be precise.) And you still can’t stream it or buy it on DVD or Bluray. I would kill for a Bluray of this film, but the rights-owner (the family of the late producer Sam Spiegel, I was told some years ago) won’t deliver the elements or some shit. But I just found a full-length version on YouTube. It looks like a third- or fourth-generation VHS tape but at least it’s watchable.
And more to the point, audible. Pinter’s dialogue is so precise and ominous and telling at every turn — it’s perfect. And the performances by Jeremy Irons and Ben Kingsley are heaven. (I’m less taken with Patricia Hodges, I’m afraid.) Please watch the first 15 minutes. At least that.
There are very few highly acclaimed films you can’t see today via the streaming services, but Betrayal is one of them. An IMDB guy claims it was shown on a Showtime HD channel on 9.23.11, but if it was licensed for that one viewing why not to other cable channels and streaming services?
Hodge, who plays Ben Kingsley‘s unfaithful wife, is the only problem with the screen adaptation. A fine actress, she’s simply not hot enough to ignite desire in the mind of the viewer. And given that she inspired Kingsley’s best friend, played by Jeremy Irons, to lead her into an affair that lasts roughly seven years, she should be. There’s no trouble believing that Irons is smitten (his declaration of unquenchable love at the finale is classic) but Hodge couldn’t be less arousing. She certainly seems a bit brittle. Too sensible and practical to be good in bed. Not to mention that long pointy nose and those odd watery eyes.
Here’s a stand-alone of the opening pub scene: