For Better, for Worse (1954 film)

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For Better, for Worse
"For Better for Worse" (1954).jpg
British theatrical poster
Directed by J. Lee Thompson
Written byJ. Lee Thompson
Peter Myers
Alec Grahame
Based on For Better, for Worse by Arthur Watkyn
Produced by Kenneth Harper
Starring Dirk Bogarde
Susan Stephen
Cecil Parker
Eileen Herlie
Athene Seyler
Cinematography Guy Green
Edited by Peter Taylor
Music by Angela Morley
Kenwood Productions
Distributed by Associated British-Pathe
Release date
  • 27 September 1954 (1954-09-27)
Running time
85 minutres
CountryUnited Kingdom
Box office£206,736 (UK) [1]

For Better, for Worse (U.S. title Cocktails in the Kitchen) is a 1954 British comedy film in Eastmancolor directed by J. Lee Thompson and starring Dirk Bogarde, Susan Stephen and Cecil Parker. [2] It was based on Arthur Watkyn's play of the same title.



Tony and Anne are a young couple who decide to get married. However Tony does not have the required prospects that her father insists on, so he sets his future son-in-law some conditions before allowing the wedding.



The film was based on a play by Arthur Watkins of the British Board of Film Censors, who wrote plays under the pen name Arthur Watkyn. [3] The play debuted in London in December 1952 with a cast including Leslie Philips, Dandy Nichols and Geraldine McEwan. [4] Reviews called it "agreeable". [5] It was a huge success, running for over 500 performances. The play was performed on radio and television. [6]

Film rights were purchased by Associated British. Susan Stephens had just been in His Excellency (1952) for Ealing Studios. [7]

It was the first role for Pia Terri from Italy. [8]

Filming took place at Elstree Studios, starting 1 March 1954. [9] It was the first film shot there to use Eastman colour. [10] The film's sets were designed by the art director Michael Stringer.


Box Office

The film was successful at the box office in Britain, helped in part by the fact Dirk Bogarde had just been seen in Doctor in the House (1954). [1] According to Kinematograph Weekly the film was a "money maker" at the British box office in 1954. [11]

Critical reception

The Monthly Film Bulletin wrote: "There is nothing very original about this domestic comedy, adapted from a successful stage play, but it is played with charm and vivacity by Susan Stephen and Dirk Bogarde, and a supporting cast of experienced players brings more life than usual to some familiar types – tiresome spinster (Athene Seyler), talkative char (Thora Hird), worldly-wise middle-class parents (Eileen Herlie and Cecil Parker). Only Dennis Price and Pia Terri, as the couple in the flat above, rather force the note. Direction is smooth, Eastmancolour pleasing, and the settings also have more chic and style than usual. The young couple even sleep between white and pastel blues striped sheets." [12]

Sky Movies noted "Arthur Watkyn's famous stage success has proved successful material for drama societies up and down the land – but still comes up like new in this bright little film version ... Warm, human and charmingly funny domestic comedy, dressed up as fresh as paint by the colour camerawork." [13]

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<i>For Better, for Worse</i> (play) 1948 play

For Better, for Worse is a comedy play by the British writer Arthur Watkyn. It was first performed at the Q Theatre in Kew Bridge in 1948. It enjoyed a lengthy and successful run at the Comedy Theatre in London's West End where it lasted for 618 performances between 17 December 1952 and 12 June 1954. The original West End cast included Leslie Phillips, Geraldine McEwan, Tom Macaulay, Anthony Sharp, Gwynne Whitby, Polly Elwes, Aimée Delamain, Charles Lamb and Dandy Nichols. It was directed by Kenneth Riddington who also appeared in the cast. The plot revolves around the trials and tribulations of a newly-married couple.


  1. 1 2 Vincent Porter, 'The Robert Clark Account', Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television, Vol 20 No 4, 2000 p504
  2. "For Better, for Worse". British Film Institute Collections Search. Retrieved 23 December 2023.
  3. "ARTHUR WATKINS, [A PLAYWRIGHT, 58]: Ex-Secretary of British Film Censorship Board Dies". New York Times. 2 August 1965. p. 29.
  4. "SPOTLIGHT ON THE STARS". Western Mail . Vol. 69, no. 3, 365. Western Australia. 29 April 1954. p. 24. Retrieved 9 July 2020 via National Library of Australia.
  5. Hope-Wallace, Philip (18 December 1952). ""FOR BETTER, FOR WORSE": A "Comedy of our Time"". The Manchester Guardian. p. 3.
  6. Phillips, Leslie (2006). Hello : the autobiography. Orion. pp. 147–152.
  7. "BOY WITH BATON NOW HAS WHIP". The Mail . Vol. 54, no. 2, 189. Adelaide. 22 May 1954. p. 8 (SUNDAY MAGAZINE). Retrieved 9 July 2020 via National Library of Australia.
  8. "TALENTED ITALIAN". The Newcastle Sun . No. 11, 326. New South Wales, Australia. 27 October 1954. p. 8. Retrieved 9 July 2020 via National Library of Australia.
  9. "Comedy in Colour". Kine Weekly. 25 February 1954. p. 27.
  10. Nepean, Edith (3 July 1954). "Round the British Studios". Picture Show. Vol. 63, no. 1631. London. p. 11.
  11. Billings, Josh (16 December 1954). "Other monkey makers". Kinematograph Weekly. p. 9.
  12. "For Better, for Worse". The Monthly Film Bulletin . 21 (240): 161. 1 January 1954 via ProQuest.
  13. "For Better, For Worse – Sky Movies HD". 27 January 2006. Retrieved 5 April 2014.