The Servant was the first of three acclaimed collaborations between director Joseph Losey and writer Harold Pinter. A memorably mordant study of class, sex, conspiracy and corruption, the film was a landmark in the development of British cinema.
Experienced manservant Barrett (Dirk Bogarde) starts working for foppish aristocrat Tony (James Fox) in his smart new townhouse. Much to the annoyance of Tony’s girlfriend (Wendy Craig), Barrett slowly initiates himself into the house and begins to manipulate his master.
Skillfully adapting a postwar novelette by Robin Maugham, Pinter and Losey created one of the definitive depictions of the English class system in all its fading, decadent glory, observing the shifts in power between moneyed master and scheming servant with beady glee. Losey’s baroque direction makes eloquent use of cinematographer Douglas Slocombe’s subtle lighting, Richard MacDonald’s meticulously designed interiors and John Dankworth’s score, while the cast is uniformly fine, Bogarde’s performance, in particular, being so strong that it transformed his career.