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The Servant (1963)

Unrated  |   |  Drama  |  16 March 1964 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.9/10 from 5,615 users   Metascore: 93/100
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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 ... See full summary »



(screenplay), (novel)
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Won 3 BAFTA Film Awards. Another 7 wins & 6 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Catherine Lacey ...
Lady Mounset
Richard Vernon ...
Lord Mounset
Ann Firbank ...
Society Woman
Older Woman (as Doris Knox)
Patrick Magee ...
Jill Melford ...
Younger Woman
Alun Owen ...
Harold Pinter ...
Society Man
Derek Tansley ...
Head Waiter
Brian Phelan ...
Man in Pub
Hazel Terry ...
Woman in Bedroom


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 and 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

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


A Terrifyingly Beautiful Motion Picture!




Unrated | See all certifications »




Release Date:

16 March 1964 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Der Diener  »

Box Office

Opening Weekend:

$3,426 (USA) (23 August 2013)


$35,748 (USA) (6 September 2013)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Westrex Recording System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Originally planned as a film by a different director, Michael Anderson. It was he who commissioned Harold Pinter to write the script, in 1961. When Anderson dropped out of the project, Joseph Losey took over and insisted that Pinter's script be extensively rewritten. This led to what Losey claimed was their only quarrel in over twenty years of close friendship (but Pinter did do the rewrites). See more »


When Barrett is bringing Susan and Tony their meal, the cameraman's reflection can be briefly seen in the shiny silver lid on the tray. See more »


[first lines]
Hugo Barrett: Excuse me, sir. My name is Barrett, sir.
Tony: Oh God, of course. I'm so sorry. I fell asleep. We've got an appointment.
Hugo Barrett: Yes, sir.
Tony: What time?
Hugo Barrett: 3'o clock, sir.
Tony: And what time is now?
Hugo Barrett: 3'o clock, sir.
Tony: Uh, it was too many beers at lunch, that's what it is. Do you drink beer?
Hugo Barrett: No. No, I don't sir.
See more »


Featured in A Bit of Scarlet (1997) See more »


All Gone
Music by John Dankworth
Lyrics by Harold Pinter
Performed by Cleo Laine
See more »

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User Reviews

Dark psychological drama
30 August 2009 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Dirk Bogarde is "The Servant" in this 1963 film written by Harold Pinter and also starring James Fox, Sarah Miles, and Wendy Craig, and directed by Joseph Losey.

Fox plays Tony, a wealthy young man who doesn't do much in the way of work. There is vague talk of a project or two, but basically he fools around with his girlfriend Susan (Craig) and that's about it. He hires Hugo Barrett (Bogarde) as a manservant. Barrett is quiet and efficient, but he makes Susan uncomfortable, and she encourages Tony to get rid of him. Barrett brings in his sister Vera (Miles) as a maid for the household, and it doesn't take her long to seduce Tony. He later finds Barrett and Vera in his bed and learns that they're not related - except in purpose.

This is a fascinating, murky psychological drama about seduction, the classes, and the strong versus the weak, with homoerotic undertones. The servant slowly becomes the master by preying on the vulnerabilities of a purposeless upper class playboy.

The John Dankworth score, with vocals by Cleo Laine, has been mentioned. Frankly, I found it intrusive sleazy '60s music that contributes to dating "The Servant." It's a shame, because the cinematography by Douglas Slocombe is exceptional, showing the house as it changes throughout Barrett's tenure and its gradual darkening, and his use of shadows and odd angles is exemplary.

The acting is tremendous, with James Fox pathetic as the weak-willed Tony, and Sarah Miles sexy and vulnerable as Vera, and Wendy Craig is appropriately cold as Tony's fiancé.

But the star is Dirk Bogarde. As a predator of the weak and corruptible, Dirk Bogarde is fabulous - restrained, sinister, dignified, he gives no doubt who holds the power in the household. And when he drops the manservant act, shirttails hanging out, hair uncombed, and cigarette dangling from his mouth, he's downright scary. Bogarde began a new, non-matinée idol career for himself beginning with 1961's controversial film Victim, and his roles would grow more and more interesting as the years progressed. Bogarde is well-known in the U.S., perhaps becoming increasingly more well-known with his films being shown on TCM, but it's hard for us to measure his tremendous fame overseas. It's probably on a par with Gregory Peck's - they were both post-war stars who worked into the late '90s. My sister lived in England in the '70s, and I asked her if he was big over there, and she said, "Uh - YEAH." Definitely worth seeing for the direction, acting, camera-work, and those Pinter touches.

13 of 13 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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Now while I love you... alone Shilpot7
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