Dedications: My four late friends Rory, Stan, Bryan, Jeff - shine on you crazy diamonds, they would have blogged too. Then theres Garry from Brisbane, Franco in Milan, Mike now in S.F. / my '60s-'80s gang: Ned & Joseph in Ireland; in England: Frank, Des, Guy, Clive, Joe & Joe, Ian, Ivan, Nick, David, Les, Stewart, the 3 Michaels / Catriona, Sally, Monica, Jean, Ella, Anne, Candie / and now: Daryl in N.Y., Jerry, John, Colin, Martin and Donal.

Monday, 25 March 2013

The Servant + Q&A

New covers for the 50 year old Servant!
That turned out to be a fascinating Sunday afternoon, heading off into a blizzard to see THE SERVANT again on a large screen - see post below. I had forgotten so many little details and the three leading players James Fox, Sarah Miles and Wendy Craig were interesting afterwards on the film; interesting too seeing 3 great British players and '60s survivors, now in their '70s, together dicussing their work and memories of the film. They were interviewed by film critic Peter Bradshaw (of "The Guardian") who had interesting points too. As "The Guardian" put it:

A well-aimed blow to 1960s Britain's class structure, Joseph Losey's The Servant assembled an embarrassment of talent and didn't squander it: Harold Pinter on the screenplay and a cast led by Dirk Bogarde, James Fox, Sarah Miles and Wendy Craig. The movie stands as one of the great dramatic provocations of the era, an unsettling domestic web of manipulation, exploitation and decadence. The assembly for this special 50th- anniversary screening is no less remarkable. Incredibly, Fox, Miles and Craig will all be on stage to reminisce, talking to the Guardian's Peter Bradshaw, plus there's an introduction by another Servant fan, comedian Richard Ayoade.

Even at the Curzon Mayfair though one has to waste half an hour enduring 15 minutes of adverts and then trailers for movies one has no interest in ... Seeing THE SERVANT again one realised how dominant that Dankworth score is, it pervades the film, as does the Cleo Laine song "All Gone" (Dankworth himself is glimpsed playing in a nightclub scene). Fox also commented on the great Richard MacDonald design for the house. Fox, Craig and Miles also had only pleasant memories of working with Losey and Bogarde. Sarah (a "Person We Like" on here, see label) excels in her second film (she had also done some shorts for her brother Christopher), and was very eloquent on the film, as were Craig and Fox (still with all his hair and still working!).

On being asked how gay they thought the film was when making it, Fox commented that the subject was never mentioned by Losey, but they knew there would be a gay sub-text. That restaurant scene was filmed in one day, with friends of Pinter brought in to play out those funny moments with the Irish bishop (Patrick Magee), the bickering lesbians and others. Miles reminded us of the long takes in the film, some of over 5 minutes - like when the fiance (Craig) who dislikes the servant, brings the flowers to the house and that whole scene plays out in one take, and also that scene where she and Fox return late to find the servant and his "sister" in the master's bedroom, or the scene in the pub where Barrett and master Tony meet again, shot with a minimum of camera movement and the actors strategically placed within the frame; the re-installed Barrett then imposes his real intentions on the house, turning the tables and switching position with his master (an indolent and not terribly bright aristocrat ready to be corrupted) whom seems to be plied with drugs and alcohol, absinthe perhaps ? - as much decadence as they could show in 1963, as the two men develop that odd relationship.

The film is being re-released and out on Blu-ray for its 50th anniversary.with cast interviews etc (which I have had to pre-order along with a Blu-ray of BILLY LIAR, also spruced up with new interviews etc for its 50th year). Its certainly a key '60s film, up there with DARLING (where Bogarde is equally terrific in a totally contasting role) and Antonioni's BLOW-UP (a less happy experience for Sarah). A key Losey film too, one becomes fascinated by the house and those gliding camera movements. It always seems to be raining or snowing outside the house too - just like our weather here now! All the interiors were on a studio set as the actual house was too small for cast, crew & camera equipment, and people lived in it at the time!

The Blu-ray blurb:
A tale of manipulation, class conflict and sexual jealousy, Joseph Losey’s classic, adapted by Harold Pinter from Robin Maugham’s novel, is one of the finest British films of the 1960s. Dirk Bogarde plays Hugo, a manservant recently employed by a bored aristocrat (James Fox). Surly at best, Hugo gradually takes over the house, reducing his master to a state of complete submission. Pinter’s sparse dialogue allows Losey to create a taut, unsettling psychological drama.

Child actor Fox of course went on to KING RAT, THE CHASE, DUFFY, ISADORA and from teaching Millie to dance the Tapioca in THOROUGHLY MODERN MILLIE to that ferocious gangster drama PERFORMANCE - as per Fox label - then he was off the screen for over a decade and returned as a character actor of note .... Craig was also in films like THE NANNY with Bette Davis, Oliver Reed's wife in I'LL NEVER FORGET'IS'NAME (Reed label) and then became a much loved tv comedy star - she was in the first play I saw in London: RIDE A COCK HORSE with Peter O'Toole in 1965 (when she asked 19 year old me if it was still raining), and I have already appraised Sarah's career, as per label ...

Guardian Interviews with Sarah Miles & Wendy Craig: 
There is also a gallery of pictures from the set: scenes-gallery?INTCMP=SRCH
Child actor James Fox in 1950: footage from Ealing film THE MAGNET used in this pop video ( "My Boyish Days" by Care).

1 comment:

  1. I've always wanted to see this film but it somehow always eluded me.