The Servant (1963)

The Servant
Directed by Joseph Losey
Written by Harold Pinter from a novel by Robin Maugham
1963/UK
Elstree Distributors/Springbok Productions
First viewing/My DVD collection
One of 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die

Hugo Barrett: I’ll tell you what I am. I’m a gentleman’s gentleman, and you’re no bloody GENTLEMAN!

I loved Losey and Pinter’s savage Darwinian study of corruption and class struggle.

The apparently independently wealth Tony (James Fox) has just returned from Africa and is setting himself up in posh digs in London.  The new house is entirely undecorated and Tony is living in squalor.  He has advertised for a man-servant and Barrett (Dirk Bogarde) answers the call.  Barrett is the complete gentleman’s gentleman and begins cooking gourmet meals and advising on interior design.  It soon becomes evident Tony needs a servant because he is incapable of taking care of himself, a fact not lost on Barrett.  Tony’s fiancee Susan takes an instant dislike to Barrett and they are soon busy sabotaging each other.

Before we know it, Barrett has installed his “sister” Vera (Sarah Miles) as housemaid. I won’t reveal more of the plot of this complex psychological thriller,

Well, this went immediately on my list of favorite new-to-me films for 2018!  It illustrates how a dark film filled with unlikeable characters can nevertheless be constantly surprising and delightful.  This is possibly Bogarde’s greatest perfomance and Fox and Miles easily match him.  The screenplay is delicious and the production and direction tells the story superbly.  Highly recommended.