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The Go-Between (1971)

GP | | Drama, Romance | 29 July 1971 (USA)
A tale of torrid and forbidden love between a couple in the English countryside.


Joseph Losey


Harold Pinter (screenplay), L.P. Hartley (based on the novel: "The Go-Between" by)
Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 10 wins & 10 nominations. See more awards »




Complete credited cast:
Julie Christie ... Marian - Lady Trimingham
Alan Bates ... Ted Burgess
Dominic Guard ... 'Leo' Colston
Margaret Leighton ... Mrs. Maudsley
Michael Redgrave ... Leo Colston
Michael Gough ... Mr Maudsley
Edward Fox ... Hugh Trimingham
Richard Gibson ... Marcus
Simon Hume-Kendall Simon Hume-Kendall ... Denys
Roger Lloyd Pack ... Charles
Amaryllis Garnett Amaryllis Garnett ... Kate (as Amaryllis Garnet)
Keith Buckley ... Stubbs
John Rees John Rees ... Blunt
Gordon Richardson Gordon Richardson ... Rector


Summer 1900: Queen Victoria's last, and the summer Leo (Dominic Guard) turns thirteen. He's the guest of Marcus (Richard Gibson), a wealthy classmate, at a grand house in rural Norfolk. Leo is befriended by Marian (Julie Christie), Marcus' twenty-something sister, a beauty about to be engaged to Hugh (Edward Fox), a viscount and good fellow. Marian buys Leo a forest-green suit, takes him on walks, and asks him to carry messages to and from their neighbor, Ted Burgess (Sir Alan Bates), a bit of a rake. Leo is soon dissembling, realizes he's betraying Hugh, but continues as the go-between nonetheless, asking adults naive questions about the attractions of men and women. Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

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This Year's Grand Prize Winner at the Cannes Film Festival See more »


Drama | Romance


GP | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Did You Know?


Director Joseph Losey rented an abandoned manor in Norfolk, and had it refurbished for the movie. See more »


In the scene where the parishioners are going to church, the bells can be heard ringing Plain Bob Minor, a six-bell method. But when the scene changes to the interior of the church, only four men are seen, heaving laboriously on the ropes. Change ringing requires the sally (the coloured fluffy portion) to be pulled fully down and allowed to rise high up, then the rope is pulled down again by the tail end (hand-stroke and back-stroke), but the tail ends of the ropes are all knotted up. The men are only chiming the bells, not performing full-circle change ringing. See more »


Leo: Thank you very much Mr. Burgess, is there anything I can do for you?
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Referenced in Thirtysomething: The Go Between (1990) See more »


Le Messager (The Go-Between) (Thème Du Film)
Written and Performed by Michel Legrand
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User Reviews

"The past is a foreign country."
30 September 2010 | by st-shotSee all my reviews

Invited by his upper crust classmate Marcus Maudsley to summer at his family estate thirteen year old Leo Colston is taken into confidence by Marcus's beautiful older sister Marian (Julie Christie) to act as a messenger to her illicit lover, local farmer Ted Burgess (Alan Bates.) Marian is engaged to Lord Trimingham (Edward Fox) whom Leo develops a strong liking for. This complicates matters for Leo who has the same feelings for Ted and out right affection for Marian. The child's innocence becomes a detriment however when he attempts to make sense of the adult world through inquiry of those very much involved and it holds drastic consequence for all.

Sumptuously photographed (Gerry Fisher) and magnificently costumed The Go-Between evokes an almost fairy tale milieu in it's early moments with summer in full bloom and the well heeled Maudsleys lounging in finery amid the lush green trappings of their estate. The Empire in 1900 is still sun 24/7 and the Maudleys, confident and mildly aloof, representative of that power. Seen through the adolescent eyes of Marcus we are exposed to the hypocritical trappings of class snobbery, stuffiness and rules of the game. As things begin to unravel the lush lazy days of summer become more storm ridden and the restraint and decorum of the Maudsleys frayed all of which is powerfully summed up and splendidly depicted by Director Joseph Losey in a scene that begins with Leo's birthday party with everyone festooned in paper party hats.

Losey's understated style does a nice job of slowly revealing his story for maximum effect. His use of flash forward, confusing at first, is spare but well utilized to tie lose ends together. The overall morose mood of the film is retained throughout though Lalo Schiffrin's score reeking of hysteria threatens it on more than one occasion.

Christie and Bates, Edward Fox as Twillingham and the young Dominic Guard are excellent fits in their roles but Margaret Leighton as Lady Maudsley turns on the jets as the film closes and walks away with the acting honors.

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Frequently Asked Questions

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Release Date:

29 July 1971 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Go-Between See more »


Box Office


$1,000,000 (estimated)
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Company Credits

Production Co:

EMI Films See more »
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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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