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The Go-Between (1971)

GP | | Drama, Romance | 1 October 1971 (UK)
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)

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Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 9 wins & 10 nominations. See more awards »


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Complete credited cast:
Julie Christie ... Marian - Lady Trimingham
Alan Bates ... Ted Burgess
Margaret Leighton ... Mrs. Maudsley
Michael Redgrave ... Leo Colston
Dominic Guard ... Leo
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 turns 13. He's the guest of Marcus, a wealthy classmate, at a grand home in rural Norfolk. Leo is befriended by Marian, Marcus's twenty-something sister, a beauty about to be engaged to Hugh, 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, 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. Can an affair between neighbors stay secret for long? And how does innocence end? Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


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


Drama | Romance


GP | See all certifications »






Release Date:

1 October 1971 (UK) See more »

Also Known As:

Budbäraren See more »


Box Office


$1,000,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

EMI Films See more »
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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


The film was nominated for 12 BAFTA Awards and won four: Best Screenplay (Harold Pinter), Best Supporting Actor (Edward Fox), Best Supporting Actress (Margaret Leighton) and Most Promising Newcomer to Leading Film Roles - Dominic Guard. See more »


For a film partly set in 1952, many of the vehicles seen are of a much later period. Including as Leo gets in his hire car at Norwich Thorpe station, a late 50's Ford Consul saloon and a BMC 1800 saloon from around 1969. The village scenes include a 1962 Austin A35 van. See more »


Referenced in Thirtysomething: The Go Between (1990) See more »


The Go-Between (Suite Pour Harpe, Clavecin Et Orchestre)
Written and Performed by Michel Legrand
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

"Eloquent, literary and nostalgic..."
12 January 2013 | by SindreKaspersenSee all my reviews

American screenwriter and director Joseph Losey's twenty-third feature film which was written by English playwright, screenwriter, actor and director Harold Pinter (1930-2008), is an adaptation of a novel from 1953 by British author Leslie Poles Hartley (1895-1972). It was screened In competition at the 24th Cannes International Film Festival in 1971, was shot on location in the county of Norfolk in England and is a UK production which was produced by German-born British producer John Heyman and British producer Norman Priggen. It tells the story about Leo Colston, a 12-year-old student and a kind of magician who in a hot summer of 1900 is invited as a guest to a countryside mansion called the Brandham Hall in Norfolk by an aristocratic family named Maudsley. Leo has come there mainly due to his schoolmate Marcus who is the son of Mr and Mrs Maudsley, but his initial reasons for being there changes when he notices Marcus' elder sister Marian.

Distinctly and precisely directed by American filmmaker Joseph Losey (1909-1984), this quietly paced fictional tale which is narrated by the protagonist and from multiple viewpoints, draws a gripping portrayal of the moral and emotional dilemma an adolescent boy is faced with after becoming a secret messenger and the forbidden relationship between an aristocratic and affianced young woman and a tenant farmer who has to hide their romance. While notable for its naturalistic and atmospheric milieu depictions, sterling production design by English production designer Carmen Dillon, cinematography by English cinematographer Gerry Fisher, costume design by costume designer John Furniss and the fine editing by English film editor Reginald Black (1902-1992), this character-driven and narrative-driven period drama where an aging man reminiscence a pivotal year in his life when his young heart was struck by a magnificent woman, depicts an empathic and incisive study of character and contains an efficient and prominent score by French composer Michel Legrand.

This romantic, suspenseful, reflective and stringently structured story which is set against the backdrop of a rural county near the city of Norwich in East England in the late 19th century, examines themes like friendship, class distinctions, loss of innocence and is impelled and reinforced by its fragmented narrative structure, substantial character development, subtle continuity, foreboding and harmonic atmosphere, graceful aura, exceptionally moving flash forward scenes and the memorable acting performances by former English actor Dominic Guard in his debut feature film role, English actress Julie Christie, English actor Sir Alan Bates (1934-2003), English actress Margaret Leighton (1922-1976) and English actor Edward Fox. An eloquent, literary and nostalgic coming-of-age tale from the early 1970s which brilliantly combines various genres and which gained, among numerous other awards, the Palme d'Or at the 24th Cannes Film Festival in 1971.

As their two previous cooperation's, Joseph Losey and author Harold Pinter's third and final collaboration is a film adaptation of a novel by a 20th century British writer and an artistic character piece that examines and emphasizes the internal struggles of characters from upper and lower social classes who are either by themselves or others led into predicaments that unravels their frailty. This mysterious and condensed triangle drama which follows the memories of a main character who looks back at a faraway past that has left him scarred for life, is a timeless and masterful cinematic accomplishment.

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