In 1950s London racial hostility to Commonweath immigrants is openly paraded. A pregnant girl, initially assumed to be white, is murdered. As two detectives start to investigate, and ... See full summary »
The aristocratic Tony moves to London and hires the servant Hugo Barrett for all services at home. Barrett seems to be a loyal and competent employee, but Tony's girlfriend Susan does not ... See full summary »
Despite success on the field, a rising rugby star senses the emerging emptiness of his life as his inner angst begins to materialize through aggression and brutality, so he attempts to woo his landlady in hopes of finding reason to live.
The Oxford professor of philosophy Stephen has two favorite pupils, the athletic aristocrat William and the Austrian Anna von Graz. Stephen is a frustrated man, with a negligent wife, ... See full summary »
Thomas is the son of a prison warden. He falls for and seduces Martin, who is older and one of the prison inmates. After Martin is released, They try to build a relationship and a life ... See full summary »
A plea for reform of England's anti-sodomy statutes, this film pits Melville Farr, a married lawyer, against a blackmailer who has photos of Farr and a young gay man (who is being blackmailed and later commits suicide) in Farr's car. After the suicide, Farr tracks down other gay men being extorted for money by the same blackmailer. The well-educated police Detective Inspector Harris considers the sodomy law nothing more than an aid to blackmailers, and helps Farr in calling his blackmailer's bluff. The movie, far ahead of its time, ends with Farr and his wife coming to terms with his homosexuality after the public exposure he faces in the blackmailer's trial. Written by
Mike Mills <firstname.lastname@example.org>
During his lifetime Dirk Bogarde never admitted to being gay and before his death he destroyed many of his private papers. Nevertheless, his sexuality has long been an open secret and Bogarde's desire to keep his private life private had to be respected. It was, therefore, an astonishingly brave decision to take on the role of Melville Farr, the closeted gay barrister who is willing to 'come out' in order to break a blackmailing ring in Basil Dearden's pioneering thriller "Victim".
Bogarde says he chose the part because he wanted to break free of the matinée idol roles he had played up to that time but by doing so he risked alienating his fan-base. Of course, by playing Farr and subsequent roles in films like "The Servant" and "Death in Venice" it could be argued that he was vicariously acting out on screen what he was feeling in real life.
That "Victim" was made at all is as astonishing as Bogarde's decision to take the lead. This was 1961 and homosexuality was still illegal in Britain. "Victim" broke new ground by making it the central theme and by making the gay characters sympathetic, the victims of the title, and by making the law, (at least in the form of John Barrie's investigating copper), sympathetic to their plight. This was a crusading work and is today largely credited with bring about the change in the law that decriminalized homosexual acts between consenting adults in Great Britain.
Viewed today it is, of course, both melodramatic and didactic. At times it seems the characters aren't saying lines but making speeches. As a thriller it's reasonably exciting, (it's got sufficient red-herrings to keep us guessing), and Dearden admitted that without the thriller element the film might never have been made. (He did something similar with racism in the film "Sapphire").
"Victim" also featured a number of other gay actors in the cast, notably Dennis Price, superb as an ageing actor, and the actor/director Hilton Edwards. Whatever his motives for taking on the role, Bogarde is superb and he has at least one great scene when he finally admits his true nature to his wife, beautifully played by Sylvia Syms. There is certainly no doubt the film has dated and yet it remains one of the greatest of all gay movies.
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