‘His Last Bow’: Harold Pinter’s Genre Disobedience in Sleuth (2007)

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Colleges, School and Institutes

Abstract

This article looks at Harold Pinter’s last fully realized writing project undertaken before his death in 2008. Sleuth is a screen adaptation of Anthony Schaffer’s 1970 stage play, which despite an earlier film version in 1971 became a second film 2007, directed by Kenneth Branagh. Pinter began work on the script in 2003, finally completing a final draft in 2005. To date, both Schaffer’s play and Pinter’s film version has received very little critical attention While a prolific adapter into film of other writers, principally novelists, Sleuth is unusual because it represents the only example of Pinter adapting a play source, save for his unproduced screenplay of Shakespeare’s King Lear in 2001.

The article will draw extensively on materials held in the Harold Pinter archive at the British Library to consider how Sleuth’s attitude of part homage, part parody towards the ‘golden age’ of 1920s detective fiction is treated by Pinter in his film adaptation. In turn the article will also attempt to trace how the genre has been absorbed and inflected in Pinter’s own drama.

Details

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)41-58
JournalCoup de Théâtre
Volume32
StatePublished - 30 Sep 2018