The Caretaker (film)

The Caretaker (also known as The Guest) is a 1963 British drama film directed by Clive Donner and based on the Harold Pinter play of the same name. It was entered into the 13th Berlin International Film Festival where it won the Silver Bear Extraordinary Jury Prize.[2]

The Caretaker
A poster bearing the film's alternate title: The Guest
Directed byClive Donner
Produced byMichael Birkett
Written byHarold Pinter
StarringAlan Bates
Donald Pleasence
Robert Shaw
Music byRon Grainer
CinematographyNicolas Roeg
Edited byFergus McDonell
Release date
  • June 1963 (1963-06)
Running time
105 minutes
CountryUnited Kingdom


While renovating his home in London, Aston, out of pity, allows an old homeless man to live with him while Aston's brother Mick torments the old man.



The film was made by a partnership of six people, none of whom took payment: Clive Donner, Donald Pleasence, Alan Bates, Robert Shaw, Harold Pinter and Michael Birkett.[3]

No distributor expressed interest in funding the film, which meant it was unable to attract investment from the National Film Finance Corporation, because it was unable to give money to projects without a reasonable chance of a commercial screening.[1] The budget was eventually raised with the support of a consortium, credited in the film as being Peter Bridge, Peter Cadbury, Charles Kasher, Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, Harry Saltzman, Peter Hall, Leslie Caron, Noël Coward and Peter Sellers, each member giving £1,000.[4]

Composer Ron Grainer was tasked to produce not a score but a sequence of sound effects, often metallic in nature, but which also include the sound of a drip which occasionally falls from the attic ceiling and a squeak as Aston uses a screwdriver. Grainer used his previous experiences working with the BBC Radiophonic Workshop in the creation of the sound picture.[5]


The film was unable to obtain a release in London until it first screened in New York.[1] According to Janet Moat, "the film is striking. Donner deploys a non-musical soundtrack, close-ups and two-shots to unsettling and menacing effect."[4]


  1. Alexander Walker, Hollywood, England, Stein and Day, 1974 p250
  2. "Berlinale 1963: Prize Winners". Retrieved 13 February 2010.
  3. Caroline Miller, The Caretaker at BFI Screenonline
  4. "BFI Screenonline: Donner, Clive (1926-2010) Biography". Retrieved 26 November 2017.
  5. "1963". Retrieved 26 November 2017.
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