The Servant (film)
From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
The Servant is a 1963 British film, directed by Joseph Losey and starring Dirk Bogarde, Sarah Miles, Wendy Craig, and James Fox. The film was adapted for the screen by Harold Pinter (the first of his three collaborations with Losey) from the novel of the same name by Robin Maugham. It is a tightly woven psychological drama that focuses on the relationships between the four central characters. The intricacies of class, servitude, ennui and Pyrrhic victory are examined and exploded.
Tony (James Fox), a wealthy young Londoner, hires Barrett (Dirk Bogarde) as his manservant. Initially, Barrett appears to take to his new job with ease and he and Tony form a quiet sort of bond while, nevertheless, maintaining their social roles. However, relationships begin to shift and change with the introduction of Tony's emotionally stilted girlfriend, Susan (Wendy Craig). She seems to loathe Barrett and all that he represents. Adding to the problems is Vera (Sarah Miles), Barrett's supposed sister, who Barrett brings to the house as a maidservant. In fact, Vera is his lover.
Nothing being what it seems, the characters manoeuvre around each other until roles reverse and Tony emerges as a very different person. In a scenario where all the major players appear bored with playing out their social roles, it could be regarded as a sinister version of Jeeves and Bertie Wooster.