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Dirk Bogarde Movies

Dirk BogardeStrangely, Dirk Bogarde never became a major star in the United States. I'm sure he was well known in the US in the '50s and '60s, but he wasn't the superstar he was in Britain or the top star he was internationally. Perhaps Bogarde just didn't care for Hollywood stardom – certainly not when in Europe he got to work for the likes of Joseph Losey, Luchino Visconti, Alain Resnais, Liliana Cavani, Rainer Werner Fassbinder, John Schlesinger, Anthony Asquith, and the now all-but-forgotten but generally capable Basil Dearden.

Anyhow, today is Dirk Bogarde day as Turner Classic Movies continues with its “Summer Under the Stars” series, which features two TCM premieres later this evening: The Blue Lamp (1950) and The Servant (1963).

The former is a conventional cop drama (directed by Basil Dearden) whose chief point of interest lies in the fact that it was a major box office hit at the time, helping to propel Bogarde's budding film career to bigger heights.

The latter film, on the other hand, is anything but conventional. Directed by American political refugee Joseph Losey and adapted by Harold Pinter from Robin Maugham's novel about a valet who turns the tables on his aristocratic master, The Servant is one of the seminal works of the 1960s. (Much like another Losey-Pinter collaboration, The Go-Between, would become one of the seminal works of the 1970s.) Mixing class distinctions with power and sexual politics, The Servant is adult filmmaking at its most intellectually gripping, with Bogarde, James Fox (as the master), and Sarah Miles (as the servant's “sister”) delivering entrancing performances.

Dirk Bogarde, Wendy Craig in The ServantThe Servant (right, with Wendy Craig) is also of interest on another standpoint.

Bogarde was gay in real life, but remained in the closet until his death in 1999. Additionally, from what I've read – including several of his tell-nothing autobiographies – Bogarde was a firm believer in traditional values such as xenophobia, anti-Semitism, racism, and colonialism.

Yet, he starred in a number of productions that could be called “subversive” (or at least “daring,” e.g., the aforementioned The Servant, King & Country, The Damned, The Night Porter) and on top of that he was the first major film star to play a gay lead in a grade-A production, Basil Dearden's Victim, released in 1961. (Bogarde had previously played a – somewhat implicit – gay character at least once: the psychopathic murderer in the 1958 thriller Cast a Dark Shadow.) In The Servant he becomes (implicitly) involved in another man-to-man relationship, something he'd do at least once again – and more obviously, albeit platonically – in Luchino Visconti's Death in Venice in 1971.

I just find it bizarre that a reactionary, deeply closeted actor would be willing to tackle gay characters, and other assorted sexual and social “deviants” on screen for all to see at a time when most movie stars wouldn't dare get near such roles.

I haven't seen, yet, either Our Mother's House or Damn the Defiant!. The former is a psychological thriller directed by Jack Clayton, who made a mere seven features during his four-decade film career. One of those was The Innocents (1961), which remains one of the best ghost movies ever; another was Room at the Top (1959), an unbridled melodrama that (somewhat surprisingly) was quite well received at the time. My point: Our Mother's House should be worth a look.

Directed by Lewis Gilbert, Damn the Defiant! sounds like a British version of Mutiny on the Bounty, but set aboard a different ship. (I'm assuming it's no coincidence that the film came out in 1962, the year the disastrous Mutiny on the Bounty remake directed by Lewis Milestone was released.) Since Bogarde and Alec Guinness are in Damn the Defiant!, it's definitely worth checking out.

Julie Christie, Dirk Bogarde in Darling

So Long at the Fair (1950) is a solid mystery-thriller (and a cautionary tale for the English abroad), in which Jean Simmons desperately searches for her missing brother through the streets of Paris, while Darling (1965, above) is another seminal '60s flick. Directed by John Schlesinger, this Swinging London drama depicts the life and times of an ambitious young woman and her many men. Some believe that Darling has dated rather rapidly; I find it one of the most interesting films of the decade, thanks in large part to Julie Christie's star-making (and Oscar-winning) performance.

 

Pacific Time

10 Monday

3:00 AM Esther Waters (1948)
A housemaid's life is complicated by the attentions of a seductive groom. Cast: Kathleen Ryan, Dirk Bogarde, Cyril Cusack. Dir.: Ian Dalrymple, Peter Proud. Black and white. 110 min.

5:00 AM Simba (1955)
A European family gets caught between English colonists and African rebels. Cast: Dirk Bogarde, Virginia McKenna, Basil Sydney. Dir.: Brian Desmond Hurst. Color. 99 min.

Dirk Bogarde in The Spanish Gardener6:45 AM Spanish Gardener, The (1956)
The British consul in Spain resents his son's friendship with a gardener. Cast: Dirk Bogarde, Michael Hordern, Jon Whiteley. Dir.: Philip Leacock. Color. 95 min.

8:30 AM Penny Princess (1952)
A young American woman with no political or financial experience finds herself the heiress to a tiny European country. Cast: Yolande Donlan, Dirk Bogarde, Edwin Styles. Dir.: Val Guest. Color. 90 min.

10:15 AM Doctor in the House (1955)
A medical student tries to balance partying with healing the sick. Cast: Dirk Bogarde, Muriel Pavlow, Kenneth More. Dir.: Ralph Thomas. Color. 92 min.

12:00 PM Doctor at Large (1957)
A young doctor tries to survive a series of disastrous nternships. Cast: Dirk Bogarde, Muriel Pavlow, James Robertson Justice. Dir.: Ralph Thomas. Color. 99 min.

1:45 PM Doctor in Distress (1963)
An intern and his antagonistic boss bond over romantic problems. Cast: Dirk Bogarde, Samantha Eggar, James Robertson Justice. Dir.: Ralph Thomas. Color. 103 min.

Jean Simmons, Dirk Bogarde in So Long at the Fair3:30 PM So Long at the Fair (1950)
A woman searches for her missing brother in Paris despite the fact that nobody believes he exists. Cast: Jean Simmons, Dirk Bogarde, David Tomlinson. Dir.: Antony Darnborough, Terence Fisher. Black and white. 86 min.

5:00 PM Blue Lamp, The (1950)
A London Bobbie goes after the crooks who shot his partner. Cast: Jack Warner, Jimmy Hanley, Dirk Bogarde. Dir.: Basil Dearden. Black and white. 85 min.

6:30 PM Servant, The (1963)
A wily manservant takes over his dissolute master's estate. Cast: Dirk Bogarde, James Fox, Sarah Miles. Dir.: Joseph Losey. Black and white. 116 min.

8:30 PM Our Mother's House (1967)
Afraid of being separated, a family of children keep their mother's death a secret. Cast: Dirk Bogarde, Pamela Franklin, Mark Lester. Dir.: Jack Clayton. Black and white. 106 min.

10:30 PM Darling (1965)
A young beauty sacrifices love and happiness to become an international celebrity. Cast: Julie Christie, Dirk Bogarde, Laurence Harvey. Dir.: John Schlesinger. Black and white. 126 min.

1:00 AM Damn The Defiant! (1962)
The crew of a British sailing ship threatens mutiny during the Napoleonic wars. Cast: Alec Guinness, Dirk Bogarde, Anthony Quayle. Dir.: Lewis Gilbert. Color. 101 min.


         
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7 Comments to Dirk Bogarde Movies

  1. thisnthat42

    Well, I'm dismayed to learn of some of his political beliefs. (Isn't a fascist homosexual an oxymoron?). But, his performance in “The Servant” (released in the U.S. in 1964) is brilliant. The Oscar that year went to (OMG) Rex Harrison for “My Fair Lady”.

  2. ARPI ROSE

    ARPI ROSE
    NOVEMBER 28, 2012

    REALLY, WAS AN ANTI-SEMETIC REMARK IN ONE OF HIS LETTERS? I'VE SEEN MANY, MANY OF HIS MOVIES SINCE 2009 AND EVEN MORE BOOKS. THE ENGLISH AT HIS TIME WERE PRONE TO THROW HOMOSEXUALS IN PRISON. THIS STUNNING, BRILLIANT ACTOR WENT TO HOSPITALS FOR 10 YEARS TO CURE HIM OF HIS HOMOSEXUALITY. DOUBT IT WORKED! WHOEVER THE AUTHOR WAS DOING HIS BEST TO TRASH THIS MAN WHO DID MORE FOR THE HOMOSEXUAL COMMUNITY IN HIS DAY. WAS HE A HOLLYWOOD LIBERAL? DON'T THINK SO BUT I SUGGEST HIS REAL HISTORY AT THE REAL TIME HE LIVED AND YOU'LL SEE A MAN WHO BRAVELY BROUGHT UP THE TOPIC IN VICTIM, WHICH SEVERAL YEARS LATER HELPED CHANGE THE ARCHAIC ENGLISH LAW. READ MORE ABOUT HIM AND THE OLDER HE GOT THE MORE PROGRESSIVE HE BECAME, SUCH AS IN THE TOPIC OF EUTHENESIA, AND SO ON.

  3. Andre

    Hi Maria,
    Bogarde made some nasty anti-Semitic remarks in his letters. (Or at least in one of his letters; now I can't recall how many there were.) I read several that are available online. You should check those out. They're fascinating, even if not necessarily a pleasant read.

  4. Maria

    Wonderful article. I'm not at all sure he was anti-Semite, particularly with what he witnessed during the war. The biography by John Coldstream is absolutely brilliant and so beautifully researched. Bogarde's collection of letters are excellent, too, very witty.

    He lived in England during a very tough time for gays (that's putting it mildly), and as Glynis Johns told Coldstream, he never worked out a lot of his issues. I do love him as an actor.

  5. J.M. Justin

    Bogarde wsa really good in victim.
    He was also fine in Death in Venice.

  6. Andre

    Thanks for the comment.
    I was being ironic. But then again, I was also making a point.
    Those *are* traditional values that are passed on from generation to generation. They have been around for millennia — and are very much around and bandied about today, even if under different guises.
    And there are still millions of deeply closeted Dirk Bogardes all over the place thanks to a “traditional value” called anti-gay bigotry.

  7. SW

    Interesting article, but since when are xenophobia, racisim, anti-semitism and colonialism “traditional values?” That line is insulting. There is nothing “traditional” about these abhorrent attitudes. Pervasive values of that day, perhaps. But I'm not even sure I would agree with that. It's a bad line, thrown into the middle of an otherwise interesting article. Thoughtless. You can do better - and should.