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Film / The Servant

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See the balance of power?

The Servant is a 1963 English film by an expat American director Joseph Losey basing on a script by Harold Pinter.

It is a story of Tony (James Fox), a wealthy aristocrat who hires a lowlife servant Hugo Barrett, played by Dirk Bogarde, who won a BAFTA for his performance. Initially, Barrett does well at his job, but the relationship shifts as Barrett manipulates and corrupts Tony and dominates the household. Tony attempts a rebellion but in the end, he loses and remains subdued to his manservant for good.

One of the film's main fortes is its gorgeous B&W cinematography by Douglas Slocombe in the fashion of the early '60s. It also touches on the topics of social position vs psychological strength.



  • Antagonist Title: Hugo Barrett is a definite villain here.
  • Foil: Hugo Barrett and Tony are that for each other. One is a somewhat blank aristocrat, the other a charismatic manservant.
  • Creator Cameo: Writer Harold Pinter appears as one of the restaurant patrons in the middle of the movie.
  • Film of the Book: Based on the novella by Robin Maugham.
  • Generic Guy: Tony lacks distinctive character features.
  • Hitler Cam: Used on Barrett in the very first scene to show how the balance of power will play out for the rest of the film. See the page image.
  • Manipulative Bastard: Hugo Barrett, oh so much. Played by the suave and sinister Dirk Bogarde.
  • No Hero to His Valet: It is clear Barrett has no respect for Tony, even before his true nature becomes obvious.
  • Only One Name: Not by chance Tony's surname is not mentioned. While the antagonist is Hugo Barrett.
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  • Relatively Flimsy Excuse: Barrett introduces his girlfriend Vera into the household by pretending she is his sister.
  • Servile Snarker: Barrett has a few moments when his manipulative nature starts to come through.

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