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AccidentUnited Kingdom 1967
Directed by Joseph Losey
Running time 105 minutes
Dirk Bogarde’s turn in Losey’s 1963 film The Servant, scripted by Harold Pinter, is one of his most iconic screen appearances The three are reunited here (under the pseudonym Victor Hanbury, Losey also directed Bogarde in the 1954 film, Sleeping Tiger, which I have not seen). but with much less satisfying results. The territory is similar - sexual repression and the class system – but it is a generally mis-cast and forced affair. Bogarde plays Stephen, a pipe-smoking Oxford philosophy don in his forties with two children, a devoted, and pregnant wife (Vivien Merchant) and a Country Life home in the countryside. He develops a fixation for one of his students the beautiful Austrian ‘princess’ Anna (Jacqueline Sassard) who divides her time between a posh fellow student, William (Michael York), and Charley (Stanley Baker), one of Stephen’s fellow academics who is also a successful novelist and ‘telly don’.
Bogarde’s characteristic flintiness is ill-suited to the role of loved husband and philanderer whilst the sexual neurosis which he was so good at portraying in the homoerotic sphere in The Servant is simply not given purchase here (one can assume because Bogarde who was homosexual was not comfortable with it). Baker, who sports a dodgy hair-piece makes for an unlikely academic, York, making his film debut, leaps around as if he is in Brideshead Revisited whilst Sassard, a French-born actress who had mainly acted in Italian films to that point and acted very little after it appears devoid of personality. Pinter knows the public school setting well and Losey lovingly depicts the manners and mores of the English in what is comparable to Rohmer’s work in France but it is all observation and no engagement. Aided perhaps by the more liberalized times, Nic Roeg would tackle similar material to much better effect in Bad Timing