Joseph loosey (director)

Studiocanal (studio)

Certificate 12 (certificate)

114min (length)

September 20, 2021 (published)

7 hours

This 1963 multi-award-winning psychological drama is the first of four collaborations between director Joseph Losey and playwright Harold Pinter (who adapted The Servant from Robin Maugham’s short story). Dirk Bogarde takes on the role of the devious and scheming servant who is hired in good faith by aristocrat James Fox, but the master-servant facade soon begins to crumble – resulting in a gradual role reversal and change of dynamics. . To celebrate the centenary of national treasure Dirk Bogarde, Studiocanal presents the film in a brand new 4K restoration.

When Tony (James Fox), a spoiled and wealthy aristocratic developer, decides to move into a new home in London’s upscale Chelsea, it becomes clear that the new pad not only needs a bit of re-decorating, but Tony – a bit slob and apparently unable to take care of himself – urgently needs a servant. Enter Hugo Barrett (Dirk Bogarde), a seemingly perfect candidate for the job with an impressive resume and an even more impressive attitude towards his profession. Convinced that Barrett is indeed the underling he needs (he is also obligated to cook and prides himself on making exquisite soufflés), Tony hires him and – over the next few weeks – the role of Master Servant quickly takes off. established. Sometimes behaving like the spoiled child that he is, Tony expects Barrett to respond to his every whim, in turn he comes to appreciate Barrett’s expertise and apparent loyalty. Things change, however, when Tony’s posh fiancée Susan Stewart (Wendy Craig) makes it clear to Tony (and later Barrett himself) that she doesn’t like the New Servant, triggered by his interruption. suddenly when Tony and Susan are about to get comfortable and romantic by the fireside. What Tony doesn’t know (but Susan feels) is that the “hiatus” was intentional… because Barrett has his own agenda as to why he applied for the job in the first place.

Despite Susan’s protests and increasingly rude behavior towards Barrett, the master of the house refuses to fire him, even berating his girlfriend with the words, “Maybe he’s a servant but he’s still a servant.” To be human ! After the renovation of Tony’s posh new home is complete, Barrett suggests he might get an additional maid and he knows the right candidate: his sister Vera (Sarah Miles) who currently resides in Manchester. Tony’s confidence in Barrett is such that he accepts that the young woman comes to London and takes a job in his house, he even arranges for her to have her own room next to Barrett’s on the top floor. When Barrett meets Vera at King’s Cross Station, it becomes clear within minutes that they are not brother and sister but are, in fact, lovers. The duo carried out a conspiratorial plan to squeeze more and more into Tony’s psyche, not to mention his wealth …

On a visit to the stately mansion where Tony’s parents, Lord and Lady Mounset (Katherine Lacey and Richard Vernon) live, it is all too obvious how posh and ignorant the upper classes are towards “normal” people. , namely when Tony discusses his plan to build more cities in Brazil (thus no doubt exploiting the penniless natives in the process). “Are you sure these ‘ponchos’ will agree with your plans?” Lady Mounset asks, to which Susan remarks, “’Ponchos? Are you sure these South American cowboys are called ponchos? I thought a poncho was a garment with a hole in the middle that you throw over the shoulders? To which Lord Mounset replies, “To my knowledge these people were called ‘Ponchos’ the last time I inquired …” Of course the correct phrase for South American riders is Gaucho and not Poncho and that hilarious scene perfectly demonstrates how far the Mounsets’ haughty and aristocratic world is from reality.
Meanwhile, Barrett asked Vera to seduce Tony one evening while Susan was away. Wearing a flirty, slightly short skirt with her long hair and eyeliner, Vera has no difficulty wrapping Tony around her finger – of course Tony, who always assumes Vera is Barrett’s sister, s fully expecting working-class girl Vera to sleep with him without thinking a second time. Several days later, after having dinner at their usual expensive restaurant with his girlfriend / fiancee Susan, the couple decide to come home early after a night out on the town and, in doing so, catch Barrett and Vera having sex in their house. upstairs bedroom. Shocked and exasperated to the same extent, Tony demands an explanation, even threatening his servant with legal action for his “criminal offense” of incest. That’s when a smirking Barrett really lets the cat out of the bag, calmly informing his master that Vera is actually not his sister but his girlfriend and that the two are planning to tie the knot. Tony then receives another hit when Vera flirtatiously walks down the stairs, smiling from ear to ear and – in Susan’s full presence – hints that she and Tony have slept together on several occasions, prompting a devastated Susan to leave the house and of Tony’s life. An hour later, Barrett and Vera also leave the house with all their things.

Over the following weeks, Tony becomes a shadow of himself, unable to take care of himself and Susan not answering his phone calls. Drifting aimlessly from bar and restaurant to bar and restaurant to another, he particularly struggles to get served by a waitress in what appears to be a downtown Beatnik club with live music – thus demonstrating to how remote his protected world is from the real world. On another occasion when he walks into a traditional pub who should sit at the bar? An apologizing Barrett who immediately begins to recount how Vera brought in the two men and got away with all her savings… Begging to give her another chance, Tony – who has nothing to lose – reinstates Barrett well. that now the dynamic between the two has changed and the former valet, realizing how incompetent Tony is when it comes to all things domestic, gradually takes over as his employer becomes desperately dependent on him. Soon Barrett is throwing parties and orgies in the house that turns into a den of decay and it doesn’t take long before Vera reappears either – have they finally achieved their goal?

The story begins in winter and ends in winter, which implies not only that from start to finish a year has passed, but by placing the action in the winter months, it also implies the emotional coldness of the people. characters, especially Barrett.
Dirk Bogarde is stunning as a valet with a more sinister and ulterior motive – perfectly against the James Fox crusty guy whose main concern in life is his clothes and what drinks he should have with his meals. Equally in great shape is Wendy Craig as Tony’s fiancee Susan, whose arrogance actually stems from her insecurity of knowing that she’s not quite in the same class as him as Sarah. Miles just doesn’t have enough screen time. Harold Pinter himself appears in a cameo, and Douglas Slocombe’s inventive cinematography showcases this masterpiece.

The fabulous 2-disc Collector’s Edition offers generous bonus material, including a trailer, image gallery, location report, interviews with some of the cast and crew, including James Fox interviewed by Richard Ayoade, as well as a lengthy video essay with Matthew Sweet and Phuong Lee – all three of college graduates, of course!


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