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:

A Terrifyingly Beautiful Motion Picture! 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

Closing credits: All characters and events in this film are fictitious and any similarity to persons living or dead is purely coincidental. See more »

Goofs

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 »

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

 
The Fatales – Homme & Femme.
18 May 2013 | by SpikeopathSee all my reviews

The Servant is directed by Joseph Losey and adapted to screenplay by Harold Pinter from the novelette of the same name written by Robin Maugham. It stars Dirk Bogarde, Sarah Mles, Wendy Craig and James Fox. Music is by John Dankworth and cinematography by Douglas Slocombe.

When well-to-do Londoner Tony (Fox) hires Hugo Barrett (Bogarde) as his manservant, he gets more than he bargained for. Especially when Hugo's sister Vera (Miles) also arrives on the scene…

The Servant remains as enigmatic today as it was back on its release in the early part of the 1960s. It's a film that defies classification, that rare old cinematic treat that continues to cause debate about not only its worth as art, but also its very meaning(s). A head bothering delight that revels in toying with your perceptions as much as Hugo Barrett enjoys toying with his supposed master. Lets play master and servant - indeed.

Set predominantly in the confines of Tony's swanky Chelsea abode, there's a disturbing claustrophobia that pervades the narrative, and this before we even begin to ponder the power of man, his ability to dominate and manipulate, or the reverse side that sees another's lack of ability to not succumb to the downward spiral instigated by a supposed lesser man.

Sprinkled over power issues are sexual desires, obtained, unfulfilled or simmering away unspoken. As the literate screenplay comes out in sharp dialogue snatches, breaking free of Pinter's other wise cement ensconced writing, there's evidence that this is a psychological study as opposed to the class system allegory that many thought it was way back then. This really isn't about role reversal, the finale tells us that.

Visually it's a box of atmospheric tricks as well. Losey and Slocombe use deep angular black and white photography to enforce the chilly dynamics at work in the story, the longer the film goes on, as it gets to the nitty gritty, the more jarring the camera work becomes – delightfully so – the house no longer an affluent person's residence, but a skew-whiff place of debauchery and mind transference. And mirrors - reflections, important and used to great effect.

Some scenes are striking and rich. Hugo at the top of the stairs standing in the bedroom doorway, in silhouette, an overhead shot of Hugo and Tony playing a childlike ball game on the stairs, a sex scene on a leather chair that we don't see but understand totally. And many more as Losey finds the material that allows him to show his skills.

Cast performances are across the board terrific, particularly Bogarde who gives a visual acting master class, and Fox who beautifully shifts a gear from toff twit into dependant dead beat. While Dankworth's musical accompaniments add flavour to the unfolding machinations. 9/10


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