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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 like him and asks Tony to send him away. When Barrett brings his sister Vera to work and live in the house, Tony has a brief hidden affair with her. After traveling with Susan for spending a couple of days in a friend's house outside London, the couple unexpectedly returns and finds Barrett and Vera, who are actually lovers, in Tony's room. They are fired and Susan breaks with Tony. Later, Tony meets Barrett alone in a pub and hires him back, and Barrett imposes his real dark intentions in the house, turning the table and switching position with his master. Written by
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Back in the late 1960's or early 70's I discovered this creepy psychological drama on local late-night TV. Once seen, it's never quite forgotten, and it's fascinating to see it once again beautifully restored and uncut in its new DVD release. Aspects of it stick with you years later, most especially the dark, moody torch song with some bizarre lyrics which is played repeatedly throughout the story on Mr. Tony's record player, seeming more sinister with each successive playing. By the time of its final hearing near the end of the movie, its effect is so oppressive that it's a relief when the record player is violently shoved off the table. One telling detail is in the scene where Mr. Tony is left alone after Barrett and Vera are expelled from the house, and his fiancee Susan also disappointedly leaves him. He dejectedly goes to an upstairs bedroom, and on the wall above the bed we see pictures of male body-builders.
The cast is uniformly excellent. This was apparently James Fox's film debut, as his credit indicates `Introducing James Fox.' He was obviously an experienced actor, though. In contrast, four years later he was affecting an American accent, singing and dancing, and amazingly, looking even younger in `Thoroughly Modern Millie.'
This is the sort of role that I always associate Dirk Bogarde with. The way Barrett's malevolent character is gradually revealed, not just through the script, but through Bogarde's facial expressions and body language, is a credit to this great actor's skill. This is one dangerous guy.
`The Servant' is a real gem of early 60's British film.
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