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Victim 1961

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In its time, Victim was considered as a daring a film as had ever been made in England. Taken at face value, Janet Green and John McCormick's screenplay is nothing new: Dirk Bogarde plays a lawyer who agrees to defend an old friend (John McEnery) on a theft charge, only to be enmeshed in a blackmailing scheme. What set this one apart is the fact that the lawyer had once been the male lover of his client. At a time when homosexuality was a criminal offense in England, any film that depicted the gay scene in a non-judgmental light was in for a rough time from the bluenose brigades. What really startled filmgoers of 1962 is that the homosexuals shown in Victim were seemingly normal, everyday blokes, a far cry from the stereotyped nance characters common to films. Denied the MPAA seal when it was released to the United States, Victim surprisingly ran into very little interference when it was released to television in the mid-1960s.~ Hal Erickson, All Movie Guide

Starring:
Sylvia Syms, Hilton Edwards
Rental Formats:
DVD

Product Details

Discs
  • Feature ages_12_and_over
Runtime 1 hour 36 minutes
Starring Sylvia Syms, Hilton Edwards, Norman Bird, John Barrie, Peter McEnery, Peter Copley, Anthony Nicholls, Donald Churchill, John Cairney, Dennis Price, Nigel Stock, Dirk Bogarde, Derren Nesbitt, Charles Lloyd-Pack
Director Basil Dearden
Genres Drama, Thriller
Studio ELEVATION
Rental release Limited availability
Main languages English
Hearing impaired subtitles English

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
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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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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Format: DVD
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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Format: DVD
....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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Format: DVD
This is a fascinating film in many ways. The acting by Dirk Bogarde, Sylvia Sims and the rest of the cast is excellent, and it is well directed.

The film works on many levels. On one level it is a whodunit - a homosexual commits suicide, and the man's lawyer (Bogarde) tries to track down the blackmailer who drove him to it.

On another level it is a drama - as the lawyer goes deeper into the gay world, it reopens his uncertainty over his own sexual orientation, and puts a strain on his marriage (to Sylvia Sims).

On a third level it is gay propoganda. At the time (Early 1960's) male homosexual acts were illeagal. This film led to greater tolleration by the public - leading to a change in the law. In fact, this has probably had a greater impact on changing public opinion (on any subject) than any other British film.

Some gay activists may now dislike the film, because many of the gay charaters are shown as sad, pathetic individuals living secret lives in the shadows, who only wanted to be left in peace away from the police and blackmailers. However, this was probably an accurate reflection of the times.
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