The Servant


Action / Drama

Plot summary

Uploaded by: FREEMAN


Top cast

James Fox Photo
James Fox as Tony
Sarah Miles Photo
Sarah Miles as Vera
Patrick Magee Photo
Patrick Magee as People in restaurant: Bishop
Wendy Craig Photo
Wendy Craig as Susan
720p.BLU 1080p.BLU
1015.85 MB
English 2.0
23.976 fps
1 hr 56 min
P/S 0 / 6
1.8 GB
English 2.0
23.976 fps
1 hr 56 min
P/S 1 / 9

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by Bunuel19768 / 10

THE SERVANT (Joseph Losey, 1963) ***1/2

I first watched Losey's most famous work - but not quite his best, in my opinion - on the big-screen at London's National Film Theatre in 1999, just a few months after star Dirk Bogarde's death; it's certainly one of the latter's most significant roles (along with the homosexual composer of DEATH IN VENICE [1971], perhaps his most representative),though I still feel that VICTIM (1961) is the finest film he's ever been associated with!

Even so, Bogarde's performance (recipient of the BAFTA award) is understated most of the time - which rather suits his enigmatic title character, a self-described "gentleman's gentleman" but actually harboring sinister ambitions. Interestingly, when Joseph Losey fell ill in mid-production, the directorial chores were thrust into the hands of the leading man until his recovery - who, amusingly, initially turned Losey down by saying that he "couldn't direct a bus" if his life depended on it!

While he was still some years away from the deliberate formalism that virtually characterized all his later output, Losey's style is here more controlled - for lack of a better word - than in, say, THE CRIMINAL (1960) or EVA (1962); this may have been due to the 'failure' of the latter (see my review elsewhere),or perhaps his collaboration with screenwriter (and influential playwright) Harold Pinter may have had more to do with this than anything else. Still, Douglas Slocombe's sleek black-and-white cinematography (also a BAFTA award winner) of the gloomy London settings - abetted by Johnny Dankworth's wistful score - is certainly among the film's most notable assets.

James Fox's fine performance as the usurped master of the house led him to short-lived stardom (and even copped the young actor the "Most Promising Newcomer" award at the BAFTAs); his career went on an extended hiatus some years later (which ended in the mid-Eighties) following his traumatic experience on the set of PERFORMANCE (1970),curiously enough a film dealing with a similar role-reversal situation! Though the women are subservient to the central relationship between Bogarde and Fox, both Sarah Miles and Wendy Craig serve their characters well; especially interesting is the battle of wits between the latter (as Fox's upper-class girlfriend) and Bogarde, whom she mistrusts from the get-go and is obviously proved right beyond her wildest imagination!

For a two-hour dialogue-driven film, the plot is pretty sparse - typically of Pinter, dealing in symbolism rather than presenting a straightforward narrative (despite being based on a novel by Robin Maugham) - but the tension between the various characters holds the viewer's attention all the way...though the final descent into depravity and degradation comes off as rather too abrupt and now seems more farcical than shocking (as it must have seemed at the time)! The cast also includes bit parts by two alumni of Losey's THE CRIMINAL - co-star Patrick Magee and screenwriter Alun Owen, sparring amusingly as a couple of clergymen in a bar! - as well as Pinter himself (a former actor in his own right, appearing as a 'society man' in the same scene, actually one of the very few set outside Fox's mansion).

There's a hilarious scene in which James Fox goes with Wendy Craig to visit her "mummified" high society parents. This enables Bogarde and Miles to live it up at the house during their absence. However, they cut short their visit and catch them romping about in their master's bedroom, whereupon he sacks them on the spot. This leads to the film's best scene, in my opinion: the chance meeting in a bar between Bogarde and Fox (who has, in the interim, fallen on hard times) where the Mephistophelean Bogarde paints a pitiful picture of himself which, inevitably, leads the lonesome Fox to engage his services once more. The way Losey shoots this marvelous sequence is masterly - with a minimum of camera movement and the actors strategically placed within the frame.

Trivia note: I own a British periodical from the early 80s called "The Movie" - a collection of essays strung together more or less by theme and running for an impressive 158 volumes - in which THE SERVANT was among the films chosen for a two-page critical evaluation, accompanied by a detailed synopsis and illustrated by numerous stills; I've leafed through it and read the review (written by Derek Prouse) so many times that these images from the film have become fixed in my mind and, as I lay watching, I was actively looking out for each one of them!

Reviewed by MartinHafer6 / 10

This didn't hold up the second time I saw it..

Dirk Bogarde becomes the gentleman's gentleman for a rich guy who sits around doing nothing with his life other than dating a nice lady. Eventually, the rich guy is seduced by a maid--and Bogarde is instrumental in orchestrating it. When this all comes out in front of the rich guy's fiancé, the rich guy's life becomes turned upside down...and the viewer is left wondering why.

I'd seen this movie years ago and remembered liking it a lot. However, with this second viewing, I was very surprised how much I didn't like it. Perhaps it's because I've seen movies since then about evil servants (such as "Kind Lady"). Perhaps it's because I've seen better evil performances by Dirk Bogarde ("Cast a Giant Shadow" comes to mind). Or, perhaps it's because I felt that the plot didn't quite hit the mark. Yes, I think it's mostly the latter. The transition from a seemingly loyal servant to a weird dominant pal seemed odd--and very, very difficult to believe. I really think this COULD have worked had they been very daring and made the relationship between the rich guy and the servant a homosexual one--it would have much better explained WHY the bizarre juxtaposition occurred. As it is, there is no competent explanation for this change in positions from servant to eventual master. Had the gay subtext been able to been explored openly, I think the film would have made a lot of sense and been more realistic. Overall, an interesting failure...but that's all.

I know it's all supposed to be social commentary...but it just left me a bit flat and bored the second time around.

Reviewed by TheLittleSongbird8 / 10

Decadent help

'The Servant' had so much that made me want to see it. Harold Pinter to me was one of the greatest playwrights/writers of the twentieth century, his prose is so insightful, very intelligent, not heavy-handed and sharp even if his screenplays may be too talky for some. He is in his first of three collaborations with Joseph Losey, have a high appreciation of him ever since seeing what is one of my favourite opera films 1979's 'Don Giovanni'. The cast promised a lot too, including Dirk Bogarde in one of his darker roles.

On the most part, for me 'The Servant' was very impressive and has a lot of brilliant things. It does fall short of being a great film or a masterpiece, as it does lose its way towards the end which is a shame after such a brilliant first half especially. All three of Losey and Pinter's film collaborations are well worth seeing, there will always be a debate as to which one is the best but for me 'The Servant' is the most fascinating in terms of atmosphere and themes. One shouldn't be judged too harshly though if they don't care for it, the latter stages and Pinter's style if not familiar with it already have proven to be divisive.

Will get the negatives out of the way. Will agree with those that didn't like the music score. This is a very important component for me to talk about when reviewing, being a musician myself. The score is well overused (close to abused even) and tonally it is really discordant with what is going on, personally would have preferred a far more ominous touch rather than the at times irritatingly playful one here.

More problematic is the ending. The lead up does have tension, though generally the final quarter did get on the weird side in places, but the ending here felt incomplete and leaves one scratching their heads. Was a bit mixed on the use of sound, sometimes it was clever and effective but at other times it over-anticipates what is about to happen next.

However, 'The Servant' has plenty of brilliant things. The production values and the acting come off best. The cinematography is simply astounding, not quite rich in atmosphere and incredibly stylish but there are some imaginative camera angles too and a real sense of claustrophobia in places. It is a beautifully designed film as well. Wendy Craig and Sarah Miles fare very well in their roles, sensual Miles making the bigger impression (her allure captivates) though Craig is quite classy and shrewd. The men are even better, James Fox avoids being too effete and reminds one of the character of Sebastian Flyte from 'Brideshead Revisited'. Even better, and along with the cinematography the best thing about the film, is Bogarde who is absolutely chilling in a "once seen never forgotten" way.

Absolutely loved the chemistry between the two, it is a fascinating dynamic once envy and manipulation comes to the forefront and where the descent from glamour and decadence likewise and really unsettles. Losey's direction is insightful, dealing with a theme that he was always interested in and excelled at portraying so he was in his element here, and while deliberate it isn't sluggish, very atmospheric as well. The dialogue is vintage Pinter, a lot of talk but not in a too rambling or over flowery way. His look at the class system is also thoughtfully done and one of 'The Servant's' interest points.

Summarising, very good film that was close to brilliant most of the time but loses its way towards the end. 8/10

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