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

Wendy Craig replaced Vanessa Redgrave who was to make her feature debut, but had to drop out because she was pregnant with her eldest child Natasha Richardson. 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

Referenced in Videoclub (2013) See more »

Soundtracks

All Gone
Cleo Laine sings
Music by John Dankworth (uncredited)
Lyrics by Harold Pinter (uncredited)
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User Reviews

 
Superb, sinister movie
25 November 2002 | by ian_harrisSee all my reviews

This is a superb, sinister movie of the very highest class. Unlike the character Tony (James Fox) who is upper class without being high class, if you get my drift. You cannot really sympathise with Tony, who toys with some high falutin' development projects but basically is a wastrel just waiting to be ponced off. Tony is a later-day Bertie Wooster. The sinister element comes from the servant (Dirk Bogarde), who is no Jeeves. Barrett, like Jeeves , is a gentleman's gentleman or valet (not a butler as suggested in some other comments on this film). Tony needs a valet because he is incapable of doing anything much without help. Barrett and his accomplice Vera (Sarah Miles) take Tony to the cleaners, sweeping aside the fiancee Susan (Wendy Craig) in their wake.

Harold Pinter has written the screenplay in similar vein to the superb movie The Accident, also a Losey piece, which I also commend. The cinematography in both movies is simply excellent. The subject matter of The Servant suits Pinter, although much of the screenplay is not really in Pinter's voice. However, there is one scene, set in a restaurant, which includes a tiny cameo by Pinter himself and which contains a short Pinteresque exchange between two women. There is also one tense exchange between Susan and Barrett "do you wear deodorant" etc. which is very reminiscent of a scene in The Caretaker "you stink from arsehole to Thursday" etc. Indeed the story of The Servant resembles The Caretaker in many respects, except that in The Servant the interloper, Barrett, is on top and stays there, whereas in The Caretaker the interloper, Davies, lacks the skill and circumstances to dislodge the incumbent.

There is a homoerotic undercurrent to the film and this works so well because it is an undercurrent (in 1963 there could have been no more than an undercurrent even if they had wanted more). The overt debauchery with Vera and the orgy party towards the end of the film is the only bit of the film that has aged without grace. But I quibble.

This is a truly great film and it deserves to be more widely known.


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