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Old Crowd, The (1979)


Warning: screenonline full synopses contain 'spoilers' which give away key plot points. Don't read on if you don't want to know the ending!

In the hallway of an unfurnished Edwardian house, a crack opens in the ceiling and dust falls on to the floor below. In an upstairs room, the new owners, George and Betty, ready themselves for the dinner party that they are about to host. They discuss the absence of their friend, Totty, who is ill and has been given only three months to live.

The doorbell rings and George opens the door to be confronted by the two servants/caterers for that evening, Harold and Glyn. Heading to the toilet, Glyn leers at Betty suggestively.

The first of the dinner guests, Rufus and his wife Pauline, arrive, and George explains to them that the house is unfurnished because the furniture has been wrongly sent to Carlisle, at the opposite end of the country.

The next guests to arrive are the glamorous Stella and her husband Dickie. As Glyn removes Stella's fur stole, he gropes one of her breasts, a gesture she appreciates. Following them is the flamboyant Oscar. He greets the others and the collected guests raise a toast to the house.

As George and Betty escort the guests around the house, another crack appears in the ceiling. Dickie is the only guest to notice it. However, he does not mention it to anyone - instead preferring to listen to the news on his portable radio. The guests are introduced to George's mother, who sits in front of a television in one of the upstairs rooms. Meanwhile, downstairs, Harold and Glyn have set the table for dinner.

Glyn answers the front door to two people in motorcycling leathers and white helmets. Taking off this uniform, they reveal themselves as the youngest of the dinner guests, Peter and Sue. Everyone is delighted to see them, particularly Pauline, who dotes upon Peter. Glyn announces dinner. As the guests are seated, Harold discovers a pink rubber glove in one of the silver food serving dishes.

At the beginning of the dessert course, George raises a toast to 'absent friends', reminding everyone of the stricken Totty. Stella stares lustfully at Glyn before purposely dropping her napkin so that he might pick it up from under the table. Glyn obliges and, while under the table, pulls a pair of scissors from his pocket, removes one of Stella's shoes and cuts a hole in one of her stockings. He then proceeds to suck one of her exposed toes.

A singer and her accompanist arrive at the house in order to entertain the dinner party. Stella leaves midway through their performance and is followed upstairs by Glyn. They violently make love behind George's mother's television.

Their performance finished, the singer and her accompanist are escorted to another room, while Rufus begins a tune on the piano for the others to dance to. Pauline and Peter surreptitiously dance into another room, where Pauline admires Peter for his youth and attempts to seduce him.

The doorbell rings and everyone is surprised to discover that the new arrival is Totty.

As George sets up a projector screen, Totty raises a toast "to us". George begins to project a series of slide photographs which provoke nostalgic comment from the dinner guests. The last slide, a set of bared teeth, provokes some confusion as to whose teeth they are. George asks Totty for her opinion but, getting no reply, discovers that she has died. The dinner guests lift her corpse from the chair in which it is propped and lay it down onto a table. They then arrange themselves behind the table and sing over Totty's body.

With the singing over, the guest make excuses and leave the house. George and Betty discover that Harold and Glyn have also left, despite not having been paid for their services. George's mother calls to George and Betty because her television set has stopped working. Rather than have George turn the television off, she continues to watch the fuzzy screen in the hope that it might start working again.