Sunday, 1 November 2015

I've Just Seen: The Servant (1963)

The Servant (1963)

Director: Joseph Losey

The Servant explores the tensions between classes, exposing a young upper middle class man's pretensions, and the deviousness of his employee. The story almost exclusively takes place inside Tony (James Fox)'s newly purchased apartment, tended to by his secretive man-servant Hugo Barrett (Dirk Bograde). Wooster and Jeeves, their relationship ain't!

The performances are top-notch, as you would expect from the cast. The black-and-white cinematography is moody and shadowy, reflecting the blurring of the roles between master and servant. It also adds to the sensuality of the film; the love scenes between Tony and Sarah Miles' Vera are dark and sultry, aided by Cleo Laine's song 'All Gone.' A distorted mirror is also used to good effect.

None of the characters in this film come off as nice but they are well drawn, particularly Tony. For some reason I was reminded of another British classic from the 60s: Powell's Peeping Tom. Not that they share visuals or storylines, but the exploration of the cruelty that resides behind veneers of British gentility.


  1. Peeping Tom is an interesting connection. This is based on a play by Harold Pinter, which explains a great deal of where it goes.

    I found this fascinating, and thought Dirk Bogarde was fantastic. I loved Sarah Miles in this as well.

    1. Thanks! You can see the play origins, but Losey used the architecture and furnishings of the house really well, so it never felt stuck (unlike Barefoot in the Park, which did).

      I wasn't expecting this to be as sensual as it was, but it was really well done.

      Also, glad to know you are a fellow P. G. Wodehouse reader!