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Homecoming, The (1973)

The Homecoming – based on a play by Harold Pinter – concerns an English household so overrun with male energy that the tenderness normally associated with family units has been replaced with cruelty, intimidation, and manipulation. God help any woman unlucky enough to enter the household.

Taking place almost entirely in the family’s home, The Homecoming begins in the middle of a merciless argument between patriarch Max (Paul Rogers), a widower and retired butcher who elevates bitterness to an art form, and his ineffectual unmarried brother, Sam (Cyril Cusack), a chauffeur.

Then Max’s middle son, Lenny (Ian Holm), enters the mix, and he’s as much of a monster as his father. Cold, hurtful, and vulgar, Lenny delights in prodding the weak spots of other people’s psyches, so it is fitting that he makes his living as a pimp.

Next to enter the picture is Max’s youngest son, the simple brute Joey (Terence Rigby), a demolitions expert and struggling boxer who Max hopes will win enough money by getting his brains bashed in to support the family.

The equilibrium is disturbed when the oldest brother Teddy (Michael Jayston), a Professor of Philosophy living in California, arrives with Ruth (Pinter’s wife at the time, Vivien Merchant) – his wife of nine years – to visit the family she has never met.

The intrusion of a female into this testosterone-riddled household sparks all sorts of psychosexual drama. Ruth ends up making out with Joey on the living-room floor while Teddy calmly observes from a nearby chair, smoking his ever-present pipe, and while the rest of the family provides nonplussed commentary: “We’re talking about a woman of quality,” Max beams while Ruth is humping his son.

The film becomes more and more surreal as it winds toward an insane climax as the family plan to turn Ruth into a prostitute.

The scenes inside the house were filmed at Shepperton Studios but the exterior scenes were shot in Hackney, East London.

Paul Rogers
Ian Holm
Cyril Cusack
Terence Rigby
Michael Jayston
Vivien Merchant

Peter Hall