7.9/10
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The Servant (1963)

Unrated | | Drama | 16 March 1964 (USA)
Trailer
2:40 | Trailer
Upper-class Tony hires servant Hugo Barrett, who turns out to have a hidden agenda.

Director:

Joseph Losey

Writers:

Harold Pinter (screenplay), Robin Maugham (novel)
Won 3 BAFTA Film Awards. Another 5 wins & 9 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Dirk Bogarde ... Barrett
Sarah Miles ... Vera
Wendy Craig ... Susan
James Fox ... Tony
Catherine Lacey ... Lady Mounset
Richard Vernon ... Lord Mounset
Ann Firbank ... People in restaurant: Society Woman
Doris Nolan ... People in restaurant: Older Woman (as Doris Knox)
Patrick Magee ... People in restaurant: Bishop
Jill Melford Jill Melford ... People in restaurant: Younger Woman
Alun Owen Alun Owen ... People in restaurant: Curate
Harold Pinter ... People in restaurant: Society Man
Derek Tansley Derek Tansley ... People in restaurant: Head Waiter
Brian Phelan Brian Phelan ... Man in Pub
Hazel Terry Hazel Terry ... Woman in Bedroom
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Storyline

The aristocratic Tony (James Fox) moves to London and hires the servant Hugo Barrett (Sir Dirk Bogarde) for all services at home. Barrett seems to be a loyal and competent employee, but Tony's girlfriend Susan (Wendy Craig) does not like him, and asks Tony to send him away. When Barrett brings his sister Vera (Sarah Miles) to work and live in the house, Tony has a brief hidden affair with her. After travelling 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

Taglines:

subtly, fascinatingly...corruption by corruption...the servant becomes master... See more »

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

Unrated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

UK

Language:

English

Release Date:

16 March 1964 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Servant See more »

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Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$7,859, 28 July 2013

Gross USA:

$36,463

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$36,463
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Westrex Recording System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Included amongst the "1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die", edited by Steven Schneider. See more »

Goofs

When Barrett first enters the house, Tony takes his legs down twice before standing up. See more »

Quotes

[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 »

Connections

Featured in The Screening Room: The Servant (2018) See more »

Soundtracks

All Gone
Cleo Laine sings
Music by John Dankworth (uncredited)
Lyrics by Harold Pinter (uncredited)
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Dark psychological drama
30 August 2009 | by blanche-2See 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.


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