Film Review: The Servant

Master and servant?

While Dirk Bogarde was one of the greatest British actors of his generation, he’s probably best remembered for starring in the ‘Doctor’ film series. During the 1950s, after completing his war service, the Londoner first came to prominence as a matinée idol. However, it was his later work which brought him the most critical acclaim. The Night Porter, Victim, A Bridge Too Far and The Damned, amongst others. it’s his performance in The Servant which is perhaps the most memorable.

Tony (James Fox) is a foppish young aristocrat who spends his nights out on the town and his days lazing around. Too idle to care for himself, he decides to employ a manservant. Barrett (Bogarde) answers the advert and proves himself to be a likely candidate. Initially, he’s astonished by the efficiency of the new ‘butler’, despite the reservations of his fiancée (Wendy Craig). Coming to rely more and more on him as time passes.

The Servant is a masterpiece. A brilliantly acted and beautifully shot (Douglas Slocombe capturing countless memorable shots and sequences) drama which tackles class and power dynamics, all to a backdrop of bristling sexual tensions. Bogarde is mesmerising. Every little action or mannerism, glance or glare, is electrifying. He conducts the impressive ensemble with Machiavellian glee. Harold Pinter’s screenplay is biting, tossing and turning each and every way. Helping to make Joseph Losey’s classic one of the greatest achievements in post-war British cinema.

4K UHD Collector’s edition Blu-ray:

  • NEW: Video essay with Matthew sweet and Phuong Le
  • NEW: Location featurette with Adam Scovell
  • NEW: Trailer
  • Stills Gallery
  • James Fox interviewed by Richard Ayoade
  • Interview with Wendy Craig
  • Interview with Sarah Miles
  • Interview with Stephen Woolley
  • Harry Burton on Harold Pinter
  • John Coldstream on Dirk Bogarde
  • Audio interview with Douglas Slocombe conducted by Matthew Sweet
  • Joseph Losey & Adolphus Mekas at the New York Film Festival in 1963
  • Harold Pinter Tempo Interview
  • Joseph Losey talks about The Servant
  • 64-page booklet with essays from Peter Bradshaw & Anna Smith

The Servant opens in UK cinemas on September 10 and is released on 4K UHD Collector’s Edition Blu-Ray, DVD and Digital on September 20.

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