I and the public know
What all schoolchildren learn,
Those to whom evil is done
Do evil in return.
-- W. H. Auden, "September 1, 1939"
It was Harold Pinter
weekend at the Egyptian Theater
in Hollywood, so I had a chance to see one of the best Joseph Losey
films, The Servant
, on the big screen. Pinter contributed the screenplay, based on the novel by Robin Maugham
. (Because I loathe writing plot summaries, here's one
.) The presentation was co-sponsored by Outfest
for good reason -- it's a classic of queer cinema. Not counting the fairly recent 300
, the 60s produced my favorite gay films, The Victim
and The Killing of Sister George,
along with Losey's. The three form a trilogy to my mind: all are British; both The Victim
and The Servant
feature Dirk Bogarde, the finest of cerebral actors, making you feel every thought his characters have; Losey trained and will always be closely aligned with Robert Aldrich
, the director of Sister George
. Although Aldrich was more of a bare-knuckles kind of director, his film shares with the more intellectual Losey's an approach to sexual identity and politics that I prefer: as a given, full of suggestion and with a good deal of nuance.