Close Up

9 March 2020: The Servant


The Servant
Joseph Losey, 1963, 111 min

"A breakthrough: a long, elegant swan dive into the intricacies of the British class system, with a tone unlike that of any other film before or since, at once urbane, nasty and cool. Dirk Bogarde is Barrett, the servant hired by a lazy young aristocrat (James Fox) named Tony to manage his newly acquired Georgian townhouse. When Barrett realizes that Tony’s upper-crust girlfriend (Wendy Craig) is a threat to his supremacy within the household, he sets his sluttish girlfriend (Sarah Miles) to work. By the end, the tables have turned, and master and servant are equals on a field of loathing. It took quite a bit of doing for Losey, Pinter and Bogarde to get this adaptation of Robin Maugham’s novel off the ground, but it was worth it: “The film still seems as fresh as a daisy to me,” wrote Pinter, “whilst stinking of moral corruption.”" – Film at Lincoln Center