Monday, 6 May 2013

Capital Celluloid 2013 - Day 139: Sun May 19

Victim (Dearden, 1961) & The Servant (Losey, 1963) : Rio Cinema, 1pm & 3pm

A superb Dirk Bogarde double-bill, perfect Sunday afternoon viewing at the Rio.

Time Out review of Victim:
Released in 1961, when ‘convicted homosexual’ could still accurately describe a person’s legal status, ‘Victim’ was justifiably seen as a daring step for both its director Basil Dearden and star, Dirk Bogarde. Bogarde plays prominent barrister Melville Farr, who jeopardises his standing by investigating the blackmail of a late young man whose appeals for help he had earlier rejected. His performance marked his shift from romantic lead to serious actor and remains the film’s most fascinating ingredient: characterised by resolute continence punctuated with irruptions of desperate candour (‘I stopped seeing him because I wanted him. Do you understand? I wanted him!’), it speaks of a determined self-policing that has cordoned off passion, tracing a progression towards public openness that Bogarde himself never saw fit to follow. Unpacking a shadow society that cuts across age and class, Farr’s investigations unearth plenty of pleas for sympathy but no declarations of pride: if the homophobic are coded as hypocrites, the gay characters tend towards the passive and precious; only Farr, the diligent aspirant to heterosexual norms, shows real guts. The script’s good intentions can tend towards the preachy (it has been credited with contributing to the eventual change in the law), and it isn’t immune to the melodramatic or schematic. But there are many pleasures to be found in the quirky supporting cast, expressive, noir-style lighting and an effectively suspenseful opening all too aptly based around the construction of a fa├žade and the withholding of information.
Ben Walters

Here is director Terence Davies on what Bogarde and the movie mean to him.

Here is the trailer.

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If you want to read an excellent article on The Servant I can recommend John Patterson's in the Guardian Guide here.

He writes: "Joseph Losey kicked off the 1960s proper with The Servant, an absolutely pivotal movie that exactly caught the spirit of the age as the country shook itself awake after the long frigid winter of 1962-3 and emerged, blinking and disoriented, into the torpid hothouse atmosphere surrounding the Profumo affair.


The story of an aristocrat (James Fox) taken in by his machiavellian manservant (Dirk Bogarde), its themes of working-class insurgency, upper-class degeneracy and mutually destructive, sexually-driven power-games – already hallmarks of the stage work of first-time screenwriter, Harold Pinter – not to mention a notorious scene that seems to depict incest between a supposed brother and sister, dovetailed in the popular mind with the emerging sex-and-spy scandal whose fumes would finally waft the Conservative party out of power in 1964.

The Servant was also perhaps the most baroquely stylised movie made in the United Kingdom since the heyday of Powell & Pressburger a decade earlier, but with Powell's optimistic high-Tory stylistic flourishes replaced by Losey's avowedly pessimistic Marxist mannerisms, or, as I prefer to think of them, his mise-in-sane."

Here is the trailer.

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