7.9/10
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The Servant (1963)

Unrated | | Drama | 16 March 1964 (USA)
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An upper-class man hires a servant 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 & 8 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 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

Taglines:

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

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

Unrated | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

UK

Language:

English

Release Date:

16 March 1964 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Der Diener See more »

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Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$3,426, 23 August 2013, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$35,748, 6 September 2013
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

The first of Harold Pinter's three film collaborations with Joseph Losey. The other two were Accident (1967) and The Go-Between (1971). 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 Dirk Bogarde: By Myself (1992) 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

 
Power Plays
9 January 2004 | by harry-76See all my reviews

About midpoint Tony's girlfriend Susan asks servant Hugo, "What do you want from this house?" It's a direct and pointed question that's ambiguously answered ("I'm just the servant, mum.")

That ambiguity carries the dramatic tension along its murky but intriguing path, as a strange play of power and manipulation unfolds. Yet after a series of quirkly developments transpire and the tables of manservant and master are reversed, what's the real gain?

What was there in the house in the first place that was worth all the fuss and bother to acquire? Satisfaction of taking over the master role?

Whatever the goal, it all seems a tawdry victory. After the shoe's on the other foot and a few points are scored in this cheesy power game, where's the spoil?

What does drive this drama is Pinter's genius for inventing small talk that gives the illusion of grandeur Losey's direction is right on the mark, and the production design, score, photography--and the acting--are all top drawer.

As in his subversive play, "The Homecoming," Pinter manages to hold the attention with his unique pregnant pauses and hypnotic ambiance, which are actually illusionary. It could be a play about something very important or about nothing.

One thing is for certain: once "The Servant" is seen, one never quite forgets it.

This remains Dirk Bogarde's defining cinematic role.


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