Don’t miss tonight’s 8:30pm screening of Joseph Losey’s 1964 ”The Servant” on Turner Classic Movies. I’ve loved this Harold Pinter-scripted creepfest for years now, but it’s officially unavailable on DVD except for some rather expensive copies being sold by internet third parties.
If you enjoy watching wealthy, educated gits self-destruct, then “The Servant” is for you. British heartthrob turned art film staple Dirk Bogarde plays the title role, a passive aggressive manservant who comes between his callow braggart boss (James Fox) and the boss’s suspicious girlfriend (Wendy Craig). Watch for a giggly, tall-coiffed Sarah Miles (a dead ringer here for Emily Watson) as the servant’s “sister” and malevolent co-conspirator in the psychological destruction of the master. Black and white cinematography is piercing, the jazzy soundtrack very “London chic,” and the set itself seems to disorient the viewer a la Escher– try to establish a mental blueprint for the townhouse in this movie, as entrances and exits seem to occur everywhere with no logical layout. If you want a masterful demonstration of “the Pinterian pause” – an actor’s ominous silence full of calculating menace – then look no further than Bogarde’s extraordinary performance.