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.

Sunday, 29 March 2015

Dirk Bogarde: 10 essential films.

The BFI (British Film Institute) has an interesting selection of "10 Best Films of ...." on their website. Dirk Bogarde is the latest choice, as per this link to the list, with comments and illustrations. 

Dirk would have been 94 yesterday, 28 March. While it is an interesting list (HUNTED, THE SPANISH GARDENER, VICTIM, THE SERVANT, DARLING, ACCIDENT, THE DAMNED, DEATH IN VENICE, THE NIGHT PORTER, DESPAIR) I would have made some changes.

I would have included THE BLUE LAMP and maybe DOCTOR IN THE HOUSE (or AT SEA with B.B.), and swopped THE DAMNED (which is not a major role for him, much as I like Visconti's over-the-top operatic melodrama) for his blond arch-villain Gabriel in Losey's MODESTY BLAISE still a camp delight after all these years, one of my major cult movies, and we always like an excuse to print another picture of Monica Vitti in Losey's op-art spy spoof (see Modesty label). and I would rather Resnais's fascinating PROVIDENCE, 1977, than the mess that is DESPAIR (and I don't suppose we will ever see again his later television roles: THE VISION with Lee Remick, MAY WE BORROW YOUR HUSBAND which he adapted from Graham Green'e short story, or THE PATRICIA NEAL STORY where he is Roald Dahl to Glenda Jackson's Neal). 

Martin would say I am  name-dropping if I mention that I saw Bogarde's first appearance at the BFI in 1970 (I was 24) when he entertained the audience hugely, and got a chance to speak to him and he signed my programme - right, and as per Dirk label.

I also like his CAMPBELL'S KINGDOMSONG WITHOUT ENDI COULD GO ON SINGING and that lunatic farrago THE SINGER NOT THE SONG, he is terrific in JUSTINE too. As I have mentioned in posts on him before, 
Its a very long career from his early spivs and war heroes to those doctors and then those leading roles, he worked with all the new talent of the 50s and 60s as well as a lot of those European players, and his books are certainly readable as he certainly knew everyone! 

Dirk and Sophia Loren were my first movie crushes, I discovered them in the mid-50s when I about 10, so its been fun going back to their earlier stuff - a lot of Dirk's early films have been brought out of mothballs so its been fun catching THE BLUE LAMP, THE GENTLE GUNMAN, BOYS IN BROWNHUNTED, APPOINTMENT IN LONDON, CAST A DARK SHADOW etc. as per reviews, and those later routine items like THE HIGH BRIGHT SUN or HOT ENOUGH FOR JUNE.
Other lists available at the BFI page, include 10 essential Cary Grant, 10 essential Katharine Hepburn,10 British gay films etc. 


  1. Hmm yeah, I hate The Damned. I'd much rather have seen The Blue Lamp and/or Campbell's Kingdom in there. I have such a soft spot for both of those films

  2. I love CAMPBELL'S KINGDOM, which I first saw when about 10, I liked those Hammond Innes adventures then. This one set in the Canadian Rockies was filmed in the Italian Dolomites mountains, but it looks quite authentic, down to Stanley Baker as the cartoon villain and Sid James as the lorry driver!

  3. Love these kinds of lists but they are so subjective. I don't have a huge knowledge of Dirk's films, I seen all that are on the list and I few others but not enough to make a definitive list. I would never put The Night Porter on any list unless it was a list of films I hated but I'd swap that out for I Could Go On Singing and I don't remember much of him in The Damned either.

    I would do better with Grant and Hepburn since I've all but eight of his films, all minor early appearances, and all of hers. I looked at Grant's which is a pretty good pull of his best but can't agree with all of Kate's. I'd never include African Queen and would sub out Desk Set for Woman of the Year but there's where the subjectivity comes in.

  4. Martin Bradley1 April 2015 at 18:10

    It is an interesting list and, of course,Martin would say you are name-dropping but then you wouldn't be you if you didn't! It has spurned me on to doing my own 10 essential Dirk movies which I will post on Letterboxd and copy to Facebook. I must also do some more ten essential lists as per those BFI polls.

  5. Martin Bradley1 April 2015 at 18:37

    I've just posted my own list.

  6. Dreamy Dirk Bogarde! Just saw Victim again and it was really brilliant and forward-thinking...I think that film helped decriminalize homosexuality in Britain. Bogarde was brave to take on the role; especially in light of his own sexuality...

    I too love him opposite Garland in The Lonely Stage/I Could Go On Singing. Their scenes together are all electric.

    "Essential" movies are the ones we like them in - totally subjective, I agree with Martin...