Victim

Film, Thrillers
0 Love It
Save it
Victim

A brave British melodrama from 1961, one of this country's first explorations of gay life on screen

Released in 1961, when ‘convicted homosexual’ could still accurately describe a person’s legal status, ‘Victim’ was justifiably seen as a daring step for both its director Basil Dearden and star, Dirk Bogarde. Bogarde plays prominent barrister Melville Farr, who jeopardises his standing by investigating the blackmail of a late young man whose appeals for help he had earlier rejected. His performance marked his shift from romantic lead to serious actor and remains the film’s most fascinating ingredient: characterised by resolute continence punctuated with irruptions of desperate candour (‘I stopped seeing him because I wanted him. Do you understand? I wanted him!’), it speaks of a determined self-policing that has cordoned off passion, tracing a progression towards public openness that Bogarde himself never felt able to follow.

Unpacking a shadow society that cuts across age and class, Farr’s investigations unearth plenty of pleas for sympathy but no declarations of pride: if the homophobic are coded as hypocrites, the gay characters tend towards the passive and precious; only Farr, the diligent aspirant to heterosexual norms, shows real guts. The script’s good intentions can tend towards the preachy (it has been credited with contributing to the eventual change in the law), and it isn’t immune to the melodramatic or schematic. But there are many pleasures to be found in the quirky supporting cast, expressive, noir-style lighting and an effectively suspenseful opening all too aptly based around the construction of a façade and the withholding of information.

By: BW

Posted:

Release details

Rated: 15
Release date: Friday July 21 2017
Duration: 96 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Basil Dearden
Screenwriter: Janet Green, John McCormick
Cast: Dirk Bogarde
Sylvia Syms
John Barrie
Peter McEnery
Anthony Nicholls
Dennis Price
Norman Bird
Charles Lloyd Pack
Nigel Stock
Derren Nesbitt
Hilton Edwards

Average User Rating

5 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:1
  • 4 star:0
  • 3 star:0
  • 2 star:0
  • 1 star:0
LiveReviews|1
1 person listening
Tastemaker

Victim is a classic movie in so many different ways. It is a great representative of the black and white suspense thriller genre of the early 1960s. It is a fantastic British movie, made in the Pinewood studios with high production values. It has a wonderful setting with splendid views of London just before the start of the swinging '60s. It has a courageous and dashing performance by Dirk Bogarde who risked his matinee idol status by taking on such a controversial role.

This is without mentioning that it was probably the first mainstream film to allude to homosexuality in a non negative way. If you are interested in the history of cinema, film-making or the history of gay rights then you should see this movie. It is being shown currently at the BFI on the south bank as part of the gross indecency season and it is well worth a visit!