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 »
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 »
In this adaptation of the Thomas Mann novel, avant-garde composer Gustave Aschenbach (loosely based on Gustav Mahler) travels to a Venetian seaside resort in search of repose after a period... 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.
Major Jock Sinclair has been in this Highland regiment since he joined as a boy piper. During the Second World War, as Second-in-Command, he was made acting Commanding Officer. Now the ... See full summary »
A clever fortune-hunter with a penchant for murder does in his elderly, supposedly rich, wife and manages to get away with it. After an investigation results in a decision of 'accidental ... 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>
The famous scene where Melville Farr (having been confronted by his wife about Barrett) finally admits to her that he "wanted him", was added at Dirk Bogarde's request and was partially written by him. Bogarde states in his autobiography that he felt the screenplay lacked credibility because it was too ambiguous and did not adequately explain Farr's involvement with Barrett, and skirted around the issue. See more »
Camera shadow moves onto Madge's coat as it pushes in closer from behind after Eddy leaves the bar. See more »
From what I have read, this was the first British film ever to use the word "homosexual" in the dialogue. That may, or may not, be technically true. Regardless, in 1961, overt gay references were risky to filmmakers, at least in Britain and the United States. Thus, the most amazing thing about "Victim" is the simple fact that it was made.
The film's theme is anything but subtle. Viewers in 1961 learn that government laws punish gays and encourage blackmailers, who function as predators to extort money from those whose instincts are out of sync with societal "norms". The film thus portrays gay men as prey, and tending to be secretive, scared, nervous, and sad. Dirk Bogarde gives an excellent performance as a powerful married barrister, secretly gay, who thinks he himself is on the verge of being blackmailed.
But while the film thus has obvious educational benefits, it is also quite entertaining, thanks to the plot rationale, which revolves around trying to guess who the blackmailer is. It's a whodunit mystery. Well into the film, a rather strange looking young man appears on a motorcycle and proceeds to chastise a barber for trying to escape from impending blackmail payments. But is this young man the real blackmailer, or just an envoy?
Adding to the entertaining plot line is the wonderfully off-kilter, noirish lighting from DP Otto Heller. The B&W cinematography conveys an appropriately moody, sometimes sinister, tone, consistent with the film's theme.
Some films try to be educational but end up preachy. Other films succeed at being educational, but lack entertainment value. "Victim" succeeds both as education and as entertainment, owing to its daring and absorbing screen story, its excellent direction, its good performances, and its effective cinematography.
36 of 37 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?