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Victim [DVD]

Dirk Bogarde , Sylvia Syms , Basil Dearden    Suitable for 15 years and over   DVD
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)

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Product details

  • Actors: Dirk Bogarde, Sylvia Syms, Dennis Price, Anthony Nicholls, Peter Copley
  • Directors: Basil Dearden
  • Writers: Janet Green, John McCormick
  • Producers: Basil Dearden, Michael Relph
  • Format: PAL
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English
  • Subtitles For The Hearing Impaired: English
  • Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: 15
  • Studio: Carlton
  • DVD Release Date: 26 Jan 2004
  • Run Time: 100 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0000Z0IAC
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 115,117 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)



Victim is quite simply a watershed moment in cinema history. The first mainstream film to portray sympathetically and realistically homosexual society, it did so at a time when homosexuality was still a crime in Britain. Janet Green and John McCormick's screenplay makes Dirk Bogarde's Melville Farr a deeply conflicted man; married and in love with his wife, he also has relationships with men; while as a lawyer he is bound to uphold the law, even as he is compelled to break it. When Jack Barrett (a young Peter McEnery) commits suicide to avoid the consequences of blackmail, Farr sees this as murder, and decides to end the extortion even if it costs him his career.

Rather more skilfully plotted than it initially appears, Victim generates considerable tension, and boasts fine performances from an ensemble cast including Sylvia Syms as Farr's wife, Norman Bird, Donald Churchill and John Barrie. Basil Dearden, who memorably featured Bogarde in an early role in The Blue Lamp (1950), directs with professional assurance. Not just a historical document--though the location footage of central London circa 1961 is fascinating in its own right--Victim was instrumental in changing attitudes, which led to the decriminalisation of homosexuality. A turning point for Bogarde too, the film marked a move from matinee idol to the more serious fare of The Servant (1963) and Darling (1965).

On the DVD: Victim is presented in an anamorphically enhanced 16:9 transfer, which beautifully captures the noir-ish black-and-white cinematography of Otto Heller. There is occasional print damage, but it is minimal and doesn't distract from the film. The mono sound is very good. The disc also includes the original trailer, an annotated gallery of production photographs and a 28-minute television interview with Dirk Bogarde. This excellent feature was filmed in the actor's house just prior to the release of Victim and finds him discussing his career with particular reference to Hunted (1952), the Doctor comedies, Song Without End (1960) and his latest, "bitterly controversial" picture, which he says couldn't have been made even two years earlier. --Gary S Dalkin

Product Description

Dirk Bogarde stars as a Q.C. with a past he has tried to bury. Now married, he has tried to forget a homosexual affair, but finds he cannot escape it when he receives a phone call from his former lover. His lover, Jack Barret (Peter McEnery), has been arrested by police for theft, but the police found that he has no money to his name and have come to the assumption that he is being blackmailed. When Bogarde refuses to speak to him Barret commits suicide. Opening himself up to legal proceedings, Bogarde decides to prosecute the blackmailers himself.

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bogarde: the essential film actor 25 Jun 2009
There are lots of reasons why you should watch this film (and it repays repeated viewings)but Dirk Bogarde is possibly the best of them. Here he is in a role that few actors - at the time - would have dared attempt (the fact that Bogarde was himself a homosexual, albeit one who preferred to keep his private life to himself only emphasises how much he stood to lose in a less 'liberal' social climate than the one we have today). With one stroke, he ended his increasingly uncomfortable career as a matinee idol and became the great actor he was always destined to be.

This film is criticised nowadays for its attitude to homosexuals: it treats them as sad, tortured creatures who deserve our pity - and whilst I can understand people making that objection, I think that director Basil Dearden and all involved had their hearts in the right place. You'll also see a very early (and moving) performance by Peter McEnery and a couple of excellent acting turns by Sylvia Syms and Dennis Price.

Definitely a film to watch, learn from and savour.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dirk does it again ... So does London. 6 April 2009
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
This is one of those classic British movies - and the film world would be a sadder place without it.

Faultlessly directed by Basil Dearden, it's a dark melodrama of unpleasant matters, mostly concerning the antiquated laws governing gay culture.

Remember that the film was made in 1961 - before the sexual revolution, and before homosexuality was decriminalised. In hushed tones, the press of the time would occasionally mention a 'subculture' or a 'twilight world' that respectable people wanted nothing to do with.

Well, in this brilliant and ultimately uplifting film, the most upstanding and right-thinking characters are brought face to face with things they would perhaps prefer not to admit.

Blackmail, fear, and obsession stalk the monochrome streets of London - and this film is endlessly absorbing.

There are plenty of surprises, some of them very touching, and the acting from the well-chosen cast is superb throughout. Dirk Bogarde is terrific as a lawyer about to reach the peak of his career - only to have his ambitions dashed by -

But that would spoil it. The plot is cleverer than that, and keeps you guessing.

Be glad this film is available on dvd in such a sumptuous print - it's one to return to again and again. Go buy.
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31 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must see 5 Nov 2006
Given the age of this film (early 1960's) it is nothing short of incredible.

It handles the subject of homosexuality in a very sensitive and yet inspiring way. I was especially impressed with the relationship between husband and wife - this could have been treated in a very negative way, but was in fact very moving.

This is a film that everyone should see at least once as it is profoundly significant - I would put it on a par with The Colour Purple - as it similarly confronts the viewer with human truths.
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38 of 40 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The past is a foreign country... 11 Mar 2004
By Peter Howley VINE VOICE
....they do things differently there.
Never more true than in this remarkable (for its time) film. Apart from being a story of courage, determination and sacrifice, it presents a picture of a time, now happily gone, when to be gay was a matter of secrecy and shame. Dirk Bogarde's career could have disappeared overnight when he took the brave decision to make this film and he gives a fine performance of a man torn between his comfortable life and successful career and his deep and secret passion. He is surrounded by a fine ensemble cast led by the splendid Sylvia Syms as his wife, Peter McEnery as "Boy" Barratt, the object of his desire and with Dennis Price, Nigel Stock and Charles Lloyd Pack in strong support. A special mention should go to a character actor by the name of Norman Bird who plays a second-hand book seller deeply in love with "Boy" Barratt, the catalyst for Bogarde's actions. Bird gives a wonderful and very moving performance as this bland little man who must mourn his loss in secret. Well ahead of its time, the film still packs a significant punch and tells a heartbreaking tale about what it was to be gay before the law changed in 1967.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A film ahead of its time 31 Mar 2009
Dirk Bogarde plays Farr, a top barrister on the verge of becoming a judge, who thinks he's being blackmailed by a young man with whom he once had a brief, platonic dalliance. As it turns out, the young man is the one who is being blackmailed about his relationship with Farr and to protect Farr he kills himself. Farr resolves to track down the blackmailers and bring them to court, even though that will expose his own situation and in so doing end his career, his marriage, and as that was the law then, get him sent to jail.

This film manages to succeed in everything it tries to do. Firstly it is a classic piece of campaigning film making, bringing home how ridiculous the legal situation was then. In fact, it has been said that this film managed to help in some small way to change the law.

Wisely though the film doesn't preach too obviously at the audience, which would create something that is worthy but dull, as is often the case with campaigning films. Instead it draws you in with a well-constructed mystery tale. There are numerous story strands with red herrings galore, each inviting you to work out who the blackmailers are and who else is involved with the mystery being viewed from both the police's and the victims' viewpoint. The characters too are believable and the acting from the leads is convincing. Dirk's relationship with his wife Sims in particular is moving.

Even though the film is ahead of its time, some aspects feel clunky. Every time a bigot expresses a view you feel that the script has been analysed beforehand by the censors to produce a speech they'll accept. And there's a silly bit where it's realized that a famous actor is being blackmailed but his name is drowned out to imply something.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars VICTIM [1961] [Blu-ray]
VICTIM [1961] [Blu-ray] Banned on its original theatrical release in the United States and highly controversial in Britain, this BAFTA-nominated story of deception, blackmail and... Read more
Published 21 days ago by Andrew C. Miller
3.0 out of 5 stars Blu-ray sad Victim (pardon me) of too much DNR!
No need to discuss the film itself here. It's fantastic, gripping, and well written with strong acting. It was also very needed at the time of its release. Read more
Published 26 days ago by Lars Sandell
5.0 out of 5 stars Blu Ray Review
This is a review for the Blu Ray... The film itself is a 'gay' classic.
The picture quality for this black and white film is fantastic. Read more
Published 29 days ago by Andy Warhol's Favorite Wig
5.0 out of 5 stars Every body should buy a copy of this! Wondrous ...
Every body should buy a copy of this ! Wondrous !!!
Published 1 month ago by neil moray urquhart phelps
5.0 out of 5 stars Dirk Bogarde at his best
one of the best films regarding gay issues ever made
Published 1 month ago by zippy boi
3.0 out of 5 stars There is little attempt to portray gay men as being like everyone else
Considered very much a daring movie when released, and some even say it paved the way for the 1968 act that decriminalised homosexual activity in private, it is worth seeing for... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Mr. P. T. Bale
5.0 out of 5 stars A must watch film
I had forgotten how good Dirk Bogarde was.

This is a brilliant film. It is hard to imagine that it was filmed in 1961. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Amazon Customer
3.0 out of 5 stars Dishonest and Misleading
All reviews that I have seen as to this film see it as a 'brave' defence of the plight of the homosexual. I think it is nothing of the sort. Read more
Published 8 months ago by opus
5.0 out of 5 stars Gripping story of 'establishment' and illegal homosexuality
It's an incredibly well acted film and if you don't know much about attitudes to homosexuality when it was still illegal, it's a real eye opener. It's a very moving story too.
Published 10 months ago by Ailsa M. Hollinshead
5.0 out of 5 stars Brave And Powerful Film-making
This 1961 film directed by Basil Dearden, which raised explicitly for the first time some of the consequential effects (namely the potential for blackmail) of Britain's existing... Read more
Published 11 months ago by Keith M
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