Joseph Losey Movies: American Political Refugee Succeeded in Britain

Joseph Losey The Servant Dirk Bogarde James Fox
Joseph Losey 1963 classic The Servant with Dirk Bogarde and James Fox.

“Among the greatest things that happened to British cinema were the arrival on our shores of the Korda brothers in the 30s, Losey in the 50s and Kubrick in the 60s,” reads the introduction to an upcoming Joseph Losey series, which runs June 1–July 23 at the bfi Southbank in London.

The Wisconsin-born (on Jan. 14, 1909) Ivy Leage-educated Losey became a political refugee following the post-World War II anti-Red hysteria. He fled to Britain where he would remain for the next three decades until his death in 1984.

The most curious thing about the bfi series is an omission: The Go-Between (1971), a scathing attack on social mores and class division that is one of the best movies of the 1970s.

Among the titles listed below, of the few I've seen the best are The Servant (1963), starring Dirk Bogarde in the title role and James Fox as his nominal master, and Time Without Pity (1957), which tackles the issue of capital punishment. Though not a great film, Time Without Pity is dramatically cohesive and boasts a top-notch cast, including Michael Redgrave, Ann Todd, Peter Cushing, Alec McCowen, and, best of all, Leo McKern.

The series also includes The Boy with Green Hair (1948), with Dean Stockwell; The Prowler (1951), with Van Heflin and Evelyn Keyes; Stranger on the Prowl (1952), with Paul Muni and Joan Lorring; The Gypsy and the Gentleman (1958), with Melina Mercouri and Keith Michell; Eve (1962), with Jeanne Moreau and Stanley Baker; The Damned (1963, above, lower photo), with Macdonald Carey and Viveca Lindfors; and the Dirk Bogarde vehicles The Sleeping Tiger (1954) and Accident (1967).

Schedule and film info from the bfi:

Accident

* 5 - 18 June

Joseph Losey's brilliant study of simmering class conflict, sexual tension and the British character.

The Big Night

* Thu 4 Jun 18:40
* Tue 9 Jun 18:20

Joseph Losey's final American film co-scripted with novelist Stanley Ellin.

Blind Date

* Mon 1 Jun 20:40
* Tue 9 Jun 20:45
* Sat 13 Jun 16:00

A tough, socially critical thriller about a murder frame-up.

The Criminal

* Sun 14 Jun 15:20
* Fri 19 Jun 20:40

Stanley Baker stars as a doomed gangster in this unquestionably outstanding movie.

The Damned

* 23 - 28 June

A riveting nuclear-angst thriller set in 'the age of senseless violence'.

The Lawless / The Dividing Line

* 2 - 21 June

A hard-hitting, 30s-style thriller exploring the social-conscience.

Early Shorts Programme

* Fri 5 Jun 20:30
* Sat 6 Jun 18:10 NFT3

Joseph Losey's public service documentaries, and a puppet movie…

Eve

* Mon 22 Jun 20:30
* Wed 24 Jun 18:10

A formidable work of perverse erotic power.

The Gypsy and the Gentleman

* Thu 18 Jun 18:10
* Sat 20 Jun 20:40
* Wed 24 Jun 14:00

Joseph Losey injects Brechtian historical reality into a Regency melodrama.

The Intimate Stranger

* Fri 12 Jun 18:20
* Sat 13 Jun 20:45
* Sat 20 Jun 18:20

A complicated, elegant B-feature thriller starring the always angsty Richard Basehart.

Joseph Losey: An Illustrated Introduction

* Mon 1 Jun 18:30

James Leahy explores differing conceptions of Losey's cinema.

M

* Thu 4 Jun 20:45
* Sun 21 Jun 20:45 NFT3
* Thu 25 Jun 18:15

A close transposition of Fritz Lang's 1931 masterpiece to Los Angeles.

The Prowler

* Wed 3 Jun 18:10
* Sat 6 Jun 20:45

Self-deceiving characters are abound in this noir thriller, Losey's finest American film.

The Servant

* 14 June - 23 July

Joseph Losey's astute study of class conflict, adapted by Harold Pinter.

The Sleeping Tiger + A Man on the Beach

* 11 - 21 June

Hyper-charged Freudian stuff in Joseph Losey's stark melodrama.

Stranger on the Prowl

* Fri 5 Jun 18:10
* Sun 7 Jun 16:10

A melodrama shot in Italy, marking the beginning of Losey's European work.

The Boy with Green Hair

* Tue 2 Jun 18:20
* Sat 6 Jun 13:30 NFT3

Joseph Losey's feature debut, a forceful fable about prejudice and xenophobia.

Time Without Pity

* Mon 15 Jun 18:30
* Wed 17 Jun 20:50

Joseph Losey explores issues of anti-capital punishment.

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