Part of our Essential Cinema series. See classic art films the way they were meant to be seen - with an audience, on the big screen!
â€śThe nastiest movie ever made! A vile snake pit of appalling manners, lust and degradation â€¦ Bogardâ€™s performance as the scheming servant sets the standard for sly corruption.â€ť â€“ David Denby, New Yorker
â€śFIVE STARS! (highest rating). A perfect storm of perversity! Loseyâ€™s masterpiece!â€ť â€“ David Fear, Time Out New York
â€śA charged, claustrophobic fever dream of privilege, power and perversion ... the performances are note-perfect and Harold Pinterâ€™s script is smart, subversive and sly.â€ť â€“ Tom Huddleson, Time Out London
In the wickedly clever thriller The Servant, a wealthy layabout is gradually drawn into a decadent game of power and corruption by his duplicitous manservant, who harbors dark secrets that threaten to upend the master/servant relationship in ways both deadly and perverse. In the first of American director Joseph Loseyâ€™s three collaborations with British playwright Harold Pinter, upper-crust James Fox thinks heâ€™s found a â€śtreasureâ€ť in his Jeeves-efficient new butler Dirk Bogarde (in a brilliant performance of corrupt desires and malicious intentions) â€” just the man to put his life and swankily restored Knightbridge townhouse in order â€” though his suspicious fiancĂ©e Wendy Craig sniffs more than a little disapprovingly. But after Bogardeâ€™s mini-skirted â€śsisterâ€ť Sarah Miles suddenly shows up on Foxâ€™s doorstep, the line of demarcation between Upstairs and Downstairs blurs, and a Mod melodrama of class warfare and psycho-sexual perversity is off and running. With a screenplay thatâ€™s pure Pinter (featuring venomously witty dialogue designed to conceal the charactersâ€™ true agendas and misshapen desires) and deliriously extravagant cinematography and mise-en-scĂ¨ne illustrating the storyâ€™s multiple layers of deception, role play and power struggle, The Servant is both a brilliantly subversive satire of the British class system and a gripping psychological thriller. (Dir. by Joseph Losely, 1963, UK, 115 mins., Not Rated) Digital