Betrayal (1983 film)

For other uses, see Betrayal (disambiguation).

Theatrical release poster
Directed by David Jones
Produced by Sam Spiegel
Written by Harold Pinter
Starring Jeremy Irons
Ben Kingsley
Patricia Hodge
Cinematography Mike Fash
Edited by John Bloom
Distributed by 20th Century Fox (United States)
Virgin Group (United Kingdom)
Release dates
  • 19 February 1983 (1983-02-19)
Running time
95 minutes
Country United Kingdom
Language English

Betrayal is a 1983 film adaptation of Harold Pinter's 1978 play of the same name. With a semi-autobiographical screenplay by Pinter, the film was produced by Sam Spiegel and directed by David Jones. It was critically well received, praised notably by New York Times film critic Vincent Canby[1] and by Chicago Sun-Times film critic Roger Ebert.[2] Distributed by 20th Century Fox International Classics (USA), it was first screened in movie theaters in New York in February 1983.[3]


Betrayal follows significant moments in the seven-year extramarital affair of art gallery owner Emma (Patricia Hodge) with literary agent Jerry (Jeremy Irons), the best friend of her husband Robert (Ben Kingsley), a London publisher. With titles such as "Two years earlier" and "One year earlier," nine sequences are shown in reverse chronological order with Emma and Jerry meeting for the first time at the conclusion of the film.

Pinter based the drama on his seven-year (1962-69) clandestine affair with television presenter Joan Bakewell, who was married to producer-director Michael Bakewell. At the time, Pinter was married to actress Vivien Merchant.[4][5]


The Seinfeld episode The Betrayal, telecast November 20, 1997 was inspired by this movie. Borrowing the film's structure, events in the episode occur backwardswith the end at the beginning and vice versa.



Pinter's screenplay was nominated for a 1983 Academy Award for Best Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium (Gale 256, 415).[6]


  1. Vincent Canby, "Movie Review: Betrayal (1983: Pinter's 'Betrayal,' Directed by David Jones", New York Times, February 20, 1983. Web. Retrieved on February 7, 2009.
  2. Roger Ebert, "Betrayal", Chicago Sun-Times, March 18, 1983. Rpt. Web. Retrieved on February 7, 2009.
  3. Susan Hollis Merritt, Pinter in Play: Critical Strategies and the Plays of Harold Pinter (1990; Durham and London: Duke UP, 1995) 236, 300. The first film reviews of such New York commercial screenings cited by Merritt date from 20 February 1983 (236-39).
  4. Michael Billington, Harold Pinter, rev. and expanded ed. (1996; London: Faber and Faber, 2007) 264–67.
  5. Joan Bakewell, The Centre of the Bed (London: Hodder & Stoughton, 2003). ISBN 0-340-82310-0. (Two chapters deal with the relationship and affair with Pinter.)
  6. Academy Awards Database, accessed September 14, 2007.

External links

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