WriterJean Genet, Ben Maddow Release dateMarch 21, 1963 (1963-03-21)
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The Balcony is a 1963 film adaptation of Jean Genet's play The Balcony, directed by Joseph Strick. It starred Shelley Winters, Peter Falk, Lee Grant and Leonard Nimoy. George J. Folsey was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Cinematography. Ben Maddow was nominated for a Writers Guild of America Award. The film also credits the photographer Helen Levitt as an assistant director, and Verna Fields, who subsequently won the Academy Award for Best Film Editing, as the sound editor.
Shelley Winters is the madame of a house where customers play out their erotic fantasies, oblivious to a revolution which is sweeping the country. When her old friend, the chief of police (Peter Falk), asks her to impersonate the missing queen in order to reassure the people and halt the revolution, she offers instead three of her customers to play the general, bishop and chief justice, all of whom have died in the revolution.
Shortly after its release, the film was negatively reviewed by the New York Times critic, Bosley Crowther, and was favorably reviewed in Variety, "With Jean Genet's apparent approval, Joe Strick and Ben Maddow have eliminated the play's obscene language (though it's still plenty rough) and clarified some of its obscurations. The result is a tough, vivid and dispassionate fantasy." Following the release of the DVD in 2000, Karl Wareham also reviewed it favorably. "'The Balcony' is recommended for those who like an enigma of a film, one that tugs at your subconscious long after the titles fade. It’s a film that reaches to the very heart of why our society works in the way it does, and presents unrelenting questions and dilemmas."
The Academy Film Archive preserved The Balcony in 2010.