A prominent lawyer goes after a blackmailer who threatens gay men with exposure (homosexual acts still being illegal). But he's gay himself...

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Nominated for 2 BAFTA Film Awards. Another 1 nomination. See more awards »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Melville Farr
...
Laura
...
Calloway
...
Lord Fullbrook
...
Paul Mandrake
Norman Bird ...
Harold Doe
...
Barrett
Donald Churchill ...
Eddy
...
Sandy Youth
John Barrie ...
Det.Inspector Harris
John Cairney ...
Bridie
Alan MacNaughtan ...
Scott Hankin
...
Phip
Frank Pettitt ...
Barman (as Frank Pettit)
Mavis Villiers ...
Madge
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Storyline

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 <mills@colorado.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

A Daring Picture About the World's Most Un-talked About Subject.

Genres:

Crime | Drama

Certificate:

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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

11 October 1961 (Denmark)  »

Also Known As:

A Vítima  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (pre-censored) | (video)

Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

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 »

Goofs

Camera shadow moves onto Madge's coat as it pushes in closer from behind after Eddy leaves the bar. See more »

Quotes

Detective Inspector Harris: Someone once called this law against homosexuality the blackmailer's charter.
Melville Farr: Is that how you feel about it?
Detective Inspector Harris: I'm a policeman, sir. I don't have feelings.
See more »

Connections

Featured in Dirk Bogarde: By Myself (1992) See more »

Soundtracks

String Quartet, Op.18
(uncredited)
Music by Ludwig van Beethoven
Arranged by Philip Green
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User Reviews

 
Predator And Prey
7 July 2006 | by (Dallas, Texas) – See all my reviews

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.


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