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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

When Joseph Losey was hospitalized for two weeks during this shoot, Dirk Bogarde continued filming assisted by minute, daily instructions over the phone from Losey's hospital bed. When Losey returned to the set he did not re-shoot any of the script, much to the relief of cast and crew. 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

References The Rules of the Game (1939) See more »

Soundtracks

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

 
Confusing, sexy and brilliant
16 November 2004 | by FramescourerSee all my reviews

A super, confusing but entirely visceral experience, The Servant is a rich collaboration between Pinter (the writer) and Losey. Good performances from Fox and the doyenne of the slightly barmy 60's flick, Sarah Miles are mandatory in order to keep up with the entirely convincing theatrics of Dirk Bogarde's morally abstract butler, Barrett. Losey keeps everything claustrophobic: there's also an edginess through the stiltedness of set pieces - in restaurants and bars, and even in the Mounset's country pile. The only scene which seems comfortable is the snow(fight) sequence in which Susan and Tony affirm their love - and the moral height from which Tony must fall.

Bizarrely, the film is erotic for the first half but then simply frightening for the second, the drama wound around a single moral trajectory - downwards - throughout. We are engulfed from the start with open-ended sexual permissiveness and suggestion, which runs alongside the class divide whose tension drives the drama to the same degree. In the final scenes I couldn't remove Berg's opera on Wedekind's play Lulu from my mind, given the sax-fronted jazz of John Dankworth colliding awkwardly with a simultaneous orchestral score. It's just a brilliant, original film - analysis resistant, but entirely absorbing nonetheless 8/10


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