Peter Medak – A Day in the Death of Joe Egg (1972)


New York Times Review:

Story of Spastic Child and Her Parents
Published: June 5, 1972

Some experiences are so special that it’s impossible to imagine how one might react to them until they come to pass: being in an air raid, winning a million-dollar lottery, losing one’s sight or one’s pants.

Death, the commonest mystery and usually inevitable, is like that. So too is the experience shared by Bri and Sheila in “A Day in the Death of Joe Egg,” Peter Medak’s English film adapted by Peter Nichols from his play which ran on Broadway four years ago.

Bri (Alan Bates), short for Brian, is a teacher in a boys school in Bristol, a man who embraces failure and loss with humor that is the wit’s end of despair. His wife, Sheila (Janet Suzman), is the sort of woman who, as she says, tries to make life work, as if it were a troublesome washing machine that won’t go unless it’s at a tilt. Largely because of Sheila, their house is stuffed with second-order life—goldfish, birds, plants, two cats named Sidney and Beatrice Webb, one of whom, Beatrice, acts as host to a colony of errant fleas. Continue reading