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  1. #1
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    A couple of nights ago I watched The Servant with a friend who said, "Oh, no! A

    Pinter film?" ??? Never having seen anything written by Pinter I was

    curious, and when I told my friend it was a British production with

    Dirk Bogarde, the response was: "Who???" This was going to be good!



    First I would like to start out with the technical aspects. The camera

    work was exceptional. Angles that not only complemented the action,

    but were essential appeared throughout the film. And because the film

    was in black and white, the effects of shadows and lighting

    contributed to the sinister elements of the story that reminded me of

    film noir films of the same era. And then the music and the sound

    effects! All fascinating, unusual, but fitting the bizarre story as it

    unfolded. I just wish the soundtrack listed more than just Clio Lane.

    The jazz was fitting for the time, a bit progressive and nervous.



    The acting. . . I could go on and on. . . The character of Hugo

    Barrett (Dirk Bogarde) was one of the most compelling and creepy roles

    I have seen in a long time. His characterization going from the

    discrete servant to the debauched, manipulative,duplicitous, downright

    cruel, almost maniacal "master" was a brilliant piece of acting.



    My friend and I kind of looked at each other when Barrett and Tony

    began their game playing and wreckless bantering towards the end. I

    read some reviews that interpreted this as homoerotic. Well, I don't

    know how 1960s audiences perceived these scenes but I had a feeling

    there was some subtext there. Did you?



    Not being familiar with the British classes of the time, all

    indications led me to believe that the writer and Pinter meant to say

    something without mincing words. They achieved it. The last few scenes

    of Tony on the staircase was a picture of a fallen man. And what about

    Barrett's former employer who died five days before Barrett entered

    Tony's household? Most likely Barrett also brought him down too, and

    would continue with his next "master."



    As I said I could go on and on. I was so impressed with everything in

    this film! How about you?



    DeeDee

  2. #2
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    It took a second viewing before I could fully appreciate how good The Servant was.



    I first watched it after having seen a musical stage version. Bad idea - with that still fresh in my mind I found was completely unimpressed with the fim version.



    A couple of years on and I've just given it a another viewing - on this occasion, my opinion couldn't have been further removed. It's a classic.



    Bogarde is undeniably on top form as Barrett. Where my opinon differs with most of the critics is that I thought Wendy Craig was quite effective in her portrayal of Susan.



    As for the homoerotic aspect - there was a deep undertone for sure, although I've never made my mind up exactly as to what it should represent.

  3. #3
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    When Bogarde says, "I've got something special for you," - in a very camp tone :) - he pushes a bottle of - something - on the table towards Edward Fox. Pours him a glass. It's never really made clear what the "something" is. But I got the impression it was beyond alcohol, and thought maybe it was a drug or something, like an opiate - does anyone know what it is?







    Having just seen THE SERVANT for the first time today and I loved it. I was quite surprised by the final act - quite a bizarre style for a British movie - even in the Sixties. It makes Fassbinder's films look quite normal in comparison. Excellent Douglas Slocombe cinematography and a tour-de-force of a performance by Dirk Bogarde. Edward Fox did remind me a bit of a Thunderbird throughout. And when he kept falling over near the end, it was like he'd had his puppet strings cut from above. :

  4. #4
    Super Moderator Country: UK christoph404's Avatar
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    Glad you liked the Servant, just to point out that it was James Fox not Edward Fox in the film, though they are of course brothers, Im guessing you knew it was James Fox and made a slip of the typo keys! but thought I would mention it just in case! not sure what was in that bottle, I shall watch the film again for about the 20th time and try and see whats going on there.

  5. #5
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    The "something special" was a drug, probably morphine judging by the effect on Fox. In those days certain London chemists would supply their own generic drug concoctions under the name "The Tonic".



    D.

  6. #6
    Administrator Country: Wales Steve Crook's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dylan
    The "something special" was a drug, probably morphine judging by the effect on Fox. In those days certain London chemists would supply their own generic drug concoctions under the name "The Tonic".



    D.
    Queen Victoria used to take morphine in alcohol - they called it laudanum. It was quite popular for quite a long time. Queen Vic also used to like tincture of cannabis. She was quite the party animal



    Steve

  7. #7
    Senior Member Country: United States theuofc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by filmlover2007
    When Bogarde says, "I've got something special for you," - in a very camp tone :) - he pushes a bottle of - something - on the table towards Edward Fox. Pours him a glass. It's never really made clear what the "something" is. But I got the impression it was beyond alcohol, and thought maybe it was a drug or something, like an opiate - does anyone know what it is?







    Having just seen THE SERVANT for the first time today and I loved it. I was quite surprised by the final act - quite a bizarre style for a British movie - even in the Sixties. It makes Fassbinder's films look quite normal in comparison. Excellent Douglas Slocombe cinematography and a tour-de-force of a performance by Dirk Bogarde. Edward Fox did remind me a bit of a Thunderbird throughout. And when he kept falling over near the end, it was like he'd had his puppet strings cut from above. :
    Hello, Filmlover,



    Delighted you liked The Servant Bogarde won a well-deserved BAFTA for the film. About the drug Barrett gives to James...Bogarde discusses what the designer drug was at the time that they decided to call it in the script, either in an interview or one of his books, can't recall offhand. I'm on travel now and will check my sources when I return unless someone in here let's you know earlier.



    Cheers to your good taste.



    All the best,



    Barbara



    Dirk_Bogarde_Brigade - a Yahoo group

  8. #8
    Senior Member Country: UK kelp's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dylan
    The "something special" was a drug, probably morphine judging by the effect on Fox. In those days certain London chemists would supply their own generic drug concoctions under the name "The Tonic".



    D.
    I seem to remember in the fifties a "medicine" called Dr Collis's Mixture. I believe it contained Morphine. I think it was removed from the shelves of chemists sometime in the sixties. So yes such things were available.

    Does anyone remember this?

  9. #9
    Senior Member Country: Great Britain
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    Quote Originally Posted by kelp
    I seem to remember in the fifties a "medicine" called Dr Collis's Mixture. I believe it contained Morphine. I think it was removed from the shelves of chemists sometime in the sixties. So yes such things were available.

    Does anyone remember this?
    It was called Dr J. Collis Browne's Chlorodyne and contained morphine, chloroform and tincture of cannibis. It came in small bottles with a dropper. My grandparents swore by it and a bottle would last them all winter warding off aches and pains. A chemist friend told me about little old ladies who came to his pharmacy each week for a bottle not realising that they were addicted to the stuff. The *interesting* ingredients were removed around 1970 making the renamed "Mixture" quite useless. Chemists also had their own generic *tonics* with the same ingredients plus amphetamine.



    D

  10. #10
    Senior Member Country: Great Britain
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    I can remember Collis Browns mixture people bought it for coughs and colds ect, people soon got addicted to it and would drink a bottle fairly quickly, a bit later another cough mixture was Benalyn which had much the same effect if you downed the lot, then of course you could buy a Vic inhaler for the Benzedrine it contained all good stuff in those days

  11. #11
    Senior Member Country: UK DB7's Avatar
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    Nice little site here;

    The Servant's Quarters

  12. #12
    Senior Member Country: Scotland julian_craster's Avatar
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    Serving a purpose ... James Fox, Joseph Losey and Harold Pinter on the set of The Servant. Photograph: Kobal












    Why The Servant is one of the best memorials to Pinter

    by Peter Bradshaw



    The Guardian

    January 5th 2008



    Why The Servant is one of the best memorials to Pinter | Film | guardian.co.uk



    There is hardly time or space for anything more than a footnote on the subject of Harold Pinter, who died on Christmas Eve at the age of 78. But this week I found myself watching The Servant � the 1963 film Pinter scripted for director Joseph Losey, starring James Fox and Dirk Bogarde. I marvelled at its eerie dreamlike quality, particularly in the languid "country house" scenes and the restaurant ensemble sequence in which Pinter himself has an extraordinarily potent cameo as some sort of smarmy man-about-town. I also wondered if it might not hold a key to Pinter's distinctive idiom of cloudy, unlocatable menace.



    The movie's unmistakable, though largely tacit theme is homosexuality in the full, unliberated postwar sense of the word � Matthew Parris said that its clenched pejorative overtone is traditionally conveyed with the long vowels fastidiously drawn out: hoa�moa�sexuality. It was based on the 1948 novel by Robin Maugham; both book and film came into existence well before the legalisation of gay sex.



    James Fox plays Tony, a wealthy, pampered, borderline-alcoholic young man with what appears to be a private income, sufficient for the purchase and redecoration of a townhouse in London's South Kensington (the locale is similar to Polanski's Repulsion) and for Tony to be involved in a rackety and fantastically implausible get-richer-quick scheme to clear the Brazilian rainforest for property development. To the profound irritation of his fiancee Susan (Wendy Craig), Tony hires a live-in manservant, Barrett, unforgettably played by Dirk Bogarde, to tend to his every bachelor need. Barrett instantly exerts a parasitic, vampiric influence on the household, smothering Tony with attention, getting subtly above himself, and displaying to Susan a studied air of dumb insolence. He induces Tony to hire his sister Vera, played by Sarah Miles, as the live-in maid, and secretly encourages Vera to seduce Tony. Later it transpires that the tale about Vera being his sister is a lie � and later still, that it might not be a lie after all.



    It quickly becomes clear that these plot devices � Barrett contriving Tony's seduction, Tony's eventual horror at Barrett's loathsome and, significantly, illegal practice of incest, together with his own implication in it � are circling around the central implication, that Tony and Barrett are lovers. The story notionally heterosexualises the fact, and keeps the film clear of the censor, although the glimpses of pages torn from bodybuilder mags on the wall of Barrett's bedroom make it pretty clear what his private tastes are.



    But the taboo nature of homosexuality creates a ferocious voltage in the writing: its unspokenness speaks volumes, and its sub/dom aspects lethally combine with the question of class shame. Tony has demeaned himself by fraternising with a servant; Barrett has demeaned himself by allowing himself to be exploited by the master. Neither man can admit it, and the film may not show it. Social repression creates the dramatic compression which in turn creates the fierce, keen shafts of dialogue.



    Could it be that Pinter's enigmatic, indirect language is inspired very largely by the pre-Wolfenden age? That the secret language of gay sex in a repressive era, with its fraught hints at seduction, submission, blackmail and denial, created a key model for Pinter's language? This is not to say that Pinter's plays are about in-the-closet gay sex � though this may be more important than it first appears � but that as a writer he was inspired by the language of people who were desperate to be understood and yet also terrified. I wondered after watching The Servant again if Pinter's entire idiom was born of an anti-Polari impulse. Where Julian and Sandy made audiences roar with laughter with their cult slang, Pinter's characters disturbed and unnerved audiences and made them shiver at events and exchanges loaded with unexplained violence and fear. Again: this is not to say that gay sex was his secret theme, but that in the lost age before the Sexual Offences Act of 1967, a very English language of not saying the unsayable was richly and vividly, if secretly, in existence, which Pinter developed and extended into new realms of metaphysical anxiety.



    There are many ways of honouring Harold Pinter's memory � revisiting The Servant is one of the best.

  13. #13
    Senior Member Country: Great Britain Mark O's Avatar
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    Hi everyone!......I'm thinking of purchasing 'The Servant' from play.com (seems best prices) though one copy the �5.99 one has a running time of one hour 42 mins, and the �9.97 copy has a running time of one hour 50 mins, would anyone know if the more expensive of the two has additional scenes?, etc; I'd sooner pay the 4 quid more if it has



    Play.com (UK) - Free Delivery - DVD - Search Results: the servant





    Cheers.....

  14. #14
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    Great film! Arguably James Fox's greatest performance.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mark O
    Hi everyone!......I'm thinking of purchasing 'The Servant' from play.com (seems best prices) though one copy the �5.99 one has a running time of one hour 42 mins, and the �9.97 copy has a running time of one hour 50 mins, would anyone know if the more expensive of the two has additional scenes?, etc; I'd sooner pay the 4 quid more if it has



    Play.com (UK) - Free Delivery - DVD - Search Results: the servant





    Cheers.....
    The more expensive DVD is the now defunct Warner version; if memory serves the cheaper Optimum DVD has a better transfer. They have both the same running time, give or take a few seconds, exactly the same cut of the film as released - buy with confidence.

  16. #16
    Senior Member Country: Great Britain Mark O's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by John Hodson
    The more expensive DVD is the now defunct Warner version; if memory serves the cheaper Optimum DVD has a better transfer. They have both the same running time, give or take a few seconds, exactly the same cut of the film as released - buy with confidence.
    Thank you for the info John.......the �5.99 one it is then, I've not seen this Film before, if the screenplay is as good as it sounds then I'll be transfixed!

  17. #17
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    Mark O you are in for a treat !

  18. #18
    Senior Member Country: Great Britain Mark O's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by billy bentley
    Mark O you are in for a treat !
    Hope so Billy!........I'll give my verdict after viewing on this thread, and if I've enjoyed it I'll probably go location hunting in due course

  19. #19
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    The house is in a square off Kings Road, Chelsea...and Joseph Losey lived in one of the houses opposite.

  20. #20
    Senior Member Country: Great Britain Mark O's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by billy bentley
    Mark O you are in for a treat !
    I most certainly was Billy.........watched the film this afternoon for the first time ever, terrific performances from all concerned, the casting was spot on, the print itself was also flawless as was the lighting in the Film, I was totally engrossed with every scene, I can see it was filmed in the Winter of 1963, one of the UK's severest Winter's, couple of little 'goofs' such as Car headlights left on when parked and Car window left open in another scene, plus the arm of the record player left on the record, but who's complaining, Cleo Laine has fine silky singing voice!



    The look on Wendy Craig's face near the end just before she slaps Dirk Bogarde spoke volumes, plus there was a lot of symbolism throughout the film such as the dripping Tap (Fawcett) and the dead Flowers



    10 out of 10 isn't nearly enough to rate this masterpiece......

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