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THE SERVANT

Director: JOSEPH LOSEY

U.K. • 1963 • BLACK AND WHITE • 35MM • 112 MIN.


Dirk Bogarde was understandably moved to tears by the rave reviews for this film: they marked his transformation from Rank glamour boy to major movie actor; they also marked a turning-point in Losey’s career. The Servant oozes style, sexuality and satire as a master/servant relationship that slips into decadence and degradation becomes a potent metaphor for the country’s declining moral leadership in the wake of the Profumo scandal and the last gasps of a Conservative government. Losey never timed a film better: social revenge and sexual liberation were in the air and the film’s irresistible visual flair seemed to sweep away both the hypocrisies of the old order and the timidity of the national cinema. Bogarde’s sensational performance is immaculately supported by James Fox, Sarah Miles and Wendy Craig; and Harold Pinter’s script consistently dazzles, whether concisely sketching power-struggle duets in a London restaurant, or a terrifying game of hide-and-seek where the servant penetrates to his master’s heart of darkness. Able finally to deliver a film on his own terms, Losey demonstrated what had long been suspected: that here was a director of world class.

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