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3.8 out of 5 stars
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 28 August 2015
Four years after the trio’s brilliant The Servant, director Joseph Losey, screenwriter Harold Pinter and actor (one of Britain’s finest) Dirk Bogarde brought us this intriguing 1967 take on human relationships – as experienced in the rarefied air of 1960s Oxford academia. Once again, the partnering of Losey and Pinter gives us a uniquely stylish – but, for me, less successful than the earlier film – slice of cinema, filled with visual delights and much verbal sparring in their attempt to dissect (and satirise) the film’s themes of open, dysfunctional relationships, ageing, identity, fidelity, fame, social mores and rituals. Bogarde turns in another outstanding performance here as the hesitant, disaffected family man and don, Stephen, part of another trio in Losey’s film – this time of besotted would-be paramours of Jacqueline Sassard’s incongruously glamorous student (and 'Austrian princess’), Anna.

Losey (and Pinter’s) film is certainly unconventional – full of flashbacks, a random sense of time and the blurring of dreams and reality (the latter during an inventive sequence between Stephen and – appropriately enough – the star of Resnais’ Last Year At Marienbad, Delphine Seyrig’s 'Provost’s daughter’, Francesca). Accident is also visually highly creative – courtesy of Gerry Fisher’s cinematography – with some impressive framing, extended takes, camera angles and numerous memorable sequences (good examples being the film’s eponymous opening and that which cuts between shots of gargoyles as a clock strikes). The film’s unconventionality – redolent of some European cinema of the period, particularly Antonioni – also manifests itself via long, static camera shots, idiosyncratic dialogue, offbeat humour, oblique plot points and eccentric characters with unexplained motivations.

Losey’s cast, however, is, almost without exception, excellent. In addition to Bogarde – for me, the film’s 'coherent centre’ – each of Stanley Baker as the disruptive friend to Stephen and 'TV host’, Charley, and Michael York as Anna’s fellow student, William, are impressive (the former particularly, playing a role very much against type). Other impressive supporting turns are delivered by Vivien Merchant as Stephen’s cynical wife, Rosalind, and by Alexander Knox as the University Provost. For me, the only weak-point is Sassard’s performance as Anna – admittedly more of a 'female cypher’ for her trio of admirers, rather than a fully-developed character – though the actress does improve somewhat as the film progresses.

Other films that Accident calls to my mind, for various reasons, partly due to the 60s milieu, are Antonioni’s Blow-up, Cammell/Roeg’s Performance, Skolimowski’s Deep End and Anderson’s If…. I’m not that surprised that, upon Accident’s release, audiences apparently didn’t 'get’ the film and, whilst (for me, at least) the film is not without its flaws, it is worth persevering with and benefits from repeat viewings.

The Studiocanal remastered DVD also has over an hour’s worth of interesting extras (an interview with Losey and Pinter plus various critics).
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on 13 January 2016
Studio Canal BD release:
Picture quality - Very good but less so in a few places, probably due to the production processes used at the time, notably at the opening and closing sequences. Satisfying rendition of colour allowing the thoughtfully framed photography and hues of the film stock to shine through as intended.
Sound quality: Good

Extras: The interview with Losey & Pinter, although clearly edited (censored?) at some point/s, taken from what appears to be an American TV show is interesting. Don't let the very poor picture quality put you off (assumed taken from NTSC video tape) - it illustrates an intriguing interplay between Director and Scriptwriter. Losey's comments about his native country were interesting. The BD sleeve date of interview states "1957". I suspect Studio Canal probably meant 1967 which was the year Accident was produced. The interview with John Coldstream (whose carefully researched and written biography of Bogarde is well worth a read) adds further interest behind the film and is worth watching before playing the film.

The film: Bogarde plays out the leading man with complete conviction even down to his unassuming pipe smoking, withstanding the minutest of scrutiny, finely assisted by the ever-reliable Stanley Baker in an atypical role. Jacqueline Sassard plays the undeniably sensuous sensation without overdoing it, her mere presence encouraging every male around her to want her, causing the evils of jealousy and betrayal to lurk beneath the respectable sub text of life as an Oxford professor and all its trappings. Also watch out for Bogarde's unmistakable trademark expression in a scene with Baker; never has a simple mannerism conveyed so much more than words ever could. This exemplifies perfectly Bogarde's belief that the camera could capture thought. The deep, intelligent, even at times challenging script is a work of creative brilliance without an ounce of fat, providing the viewer with an overview of situations, human problems and emotions the characters find themselves confronted with, yet deftly allowing him to fill in the gaps to draw his own conclusions - a class act that few can match.

Although Accident is undeniably a masterpiece, it remains overshadowed by the threesome's (Losey/Pinter/Bogarde) finest film, The Servant which possesses greater depth, character development, a more intriguing premise and superior photography and mood thanks to the genius of Douglas Slocombe's pitch perfect black and white cinematography which combine to create an absorbing, ever tightening atmosphere and final plunge into decadence, moral oblivion and the corruption of the very soul. However, everyone will have his own opinion and view Accident differently which is part of the film's enigma.

Accident is unique. Every time I play the film (first on VHS, then DVD, and now BD) I see something different. Sometimes I like the film, other times I don't. Probably as it is so intelligently crafted, so complex, so challenging intellectually. This film will not withstand a casual viewing. But give it your full attention and you will be rewarded. Maybe not on the first playing, nor the second. It has taken years, and many viewings to really appreciate and "get" the film, but I still find myself discovering more of its finer subtleties. But now that I finally have 'got' it in the main, it was worth it. For a film to be so watchable so often yet remain fresh, is a work of a master, or masters. I still haven't quite squared the ending to my satisfaction but that will be something to look forward to in the future - perhaps on 4K!

Accident is the Trinity of Losey/Pinter/Bogarde firing on all eight cylinders. The Servant is their twelve cylinder model.
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VINE VOICEon 27 June 2009
Joseph Losey's partnership with Pinter(as screenwriter) came from their similar attitudes to the English class system. This was the second of their 3 collaborations.Losey was left wing and had a distinctive European sensibility. He also uses two European actresses, Delphine Seyrig and Jaqueline Sassard.This is his masterpiece, based on a Nicholas Mosley novel . Pinter takes the austerity of the novel with its minimal dialogue and explores what is not said and what is not done.The film starts with an accident, and Stephen a middle-aged Oxford don( who teaches philosophy), finds the overturned car outside his property. Two of his students,William and Anna, were on their way to see him. William is dead and Stephen(Bogarde), rescues Anna(Sassard),who had been driving and is drunk and has no license to drive.Stephen is the only one who knew she was driving or in the car at all.He protects Anna from the consequences, by taking her to his house(his wife Vivian Merchant is in hospital,pregnant). In the event, the police do not find out that Anna was either in, or driving the car. There follows flash-backs leading up to the event.

Stephen is married with two children and one on the way. He is comfortable, and lives in a beautiful house.He likes his two aristocratic students, William(a very good Yorke)and Anna,an Austrian princess, who he teaches philosophy. He acts as a go-between for the two of them.Stephen has a competitive relationship with his friend Charley(Baker) an academic and novelist who appears on TV and is married. Stephen learns that Charley is having an affair with Anna. He encourages Charley to make things up with his wife.What is noticeable about this film is it hasn't aged and could have been made yesterday. It steers clear of the swinging 60s clichés, common to films made then.To Stephen and Charley much of human behaviour is to do with the playing of games. Shows of communication were not much more than the playing of games.We get lots of shots of them playing tennis,cricket and with William, indoor rugby.There are beautifully filmed episodes of punting on the river, with young women and family picnics and country walks, showing the rituals of English behaviour. Suppressed feelings are acted out in the rituals and games. Stephen is attracted to Anna and would like to seduce her.

In the novel he is faithful to his wife and loves her and maybe hasn't the nerve of the more extrovert Charley. Anna announces she will marry William -in some sort of revenge. Everything is restrained and understated. Allusion and indirection dominate, e.g. Stephen's tryst in London with Francesca(Seyrig), where a voiceover of banal small talk takes the place of what is really happening.What happens to Anna after the accident? Stephen appears to rape her, although he doesn't sleep with her in the novel.Pinter explained to Mosley why they felt this was structurally necessary:it economised and compressed and intensified the drama. Otherwise, they adhered faithfully to the novel. Sassard has an iconic,languorous beauty, and is merely an instrument for the men,her acting appears wooden.Mosley's idea to salvage anything from the disaster, was for Stephen to not sleep with Anna. What works in a novel doesn't always work on film. Bogarde felt he played the best role of his career as Stephen, with his repressed sexuality and mid-life crisis.Baker is phenomenal as the very physical and extrovert Charley.There is a real tension between these two actors. Vivian Merchant is brilliant as the all- knowing Rosalind. Losey places himself up there with Resnais and Antonioni.Pinter's use of memory and time showed the preoccupation of his plays.He gives a cameo performance as a TV producer.This film was the winner of the 1967 Grand Jury Prize at Cannes.Deservedly so.
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on 29 October 2015
This is a good movie.: the acting, casting , photography, script and exemplary musical score by Johnny Dankworth, combine to make this film a sheer joy to watch. It moves quite slowly at times, but the characters are laid bare: often raw and vunerable. Stanley Baker is magnificent and although I admire Dirk Bogarde as an intuitive and skilled film actor, I found myself slightly irritated by his, at times, laboured and self effacing performance, which worked to a certain extent, but needed some more animation and confidence. However, even with these minor faults (personal view) the film works well with great atmosphere and a well developed storyline and, as already mentioned, a fine score.
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on 2 May 2009
Dirk Bogarde felt his performance in this film was the best of his career, because the character he portrayed had so little in common with the real D.B.

I don't know whether I'd entirely go along with that, but there's no denying that this is one of his finest, if not the peak: you'll never forget the way he says 'And sex' at the conclusion of the dinner scene - a lifetime of contempt, derision and self-loathing encapsulated in the delivery of two short words.

Elsewhere, Pinter - possibly the finest writer for the screen who ever lived - turns in the usual masterly screenplay, which Losey directs with his customary aplomb. Stanley Baker gives an excellent turn as Bogarde's more successful colleague (though it's a bit difficult to picture him as an Oxford don)and the photography is quite beautiful. Vivien Merchant, in a minor role, is a major joy.

It's really very superficial to describe this film as a lot of rich kids grumbling about life...that's entirely to miss the point: the film is a study of human weakness, among other things. That it happens to be set amongst the dreaming spires of Oxford is coincidental.
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on 15 March 2009
I'm sorry, but I fail to see what is so wonderful about this rather self-indulgent tosh.

Yes, it's nicely photographed, and the performances are good - but so they should be: the cast is a magnificent one.

For me, the problem is the film itself.

Frankly, it's boring.

Pinter's screenplay is boring, centred on self-indulgent and boring people, about whom it is impossible to care. After a very short time, I want to give most of them a hearty slap and tell them to lighten up and stop being ... so boring.

Maybe that's the whole point - in which case I've missed the point completely, but
I can't help wondering if we are perhaps so in awe of Pinter and his extraordinary theatrical and filmic legacy that we daren't admit that he can sometimes be a wee bit in love with himself, and that what we are watching is not so much brilliantly clever and loaded with subtext and menace, but just ... plain boring.

Save your money and buy 'The Servant' instead. Pinter and Bogarde again - but fascinating this time. And anything but boring.
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on 13 May 2009
One of Joseph Losey's best films demonstrating also what an excellent "film" actor Dirk Bogarde was.
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on 14 January 2013
The Optimum, reg. 2 DVD shown does NOT have "Family Way" on it. Note that the 2004 and 2005 reviews for Family Way refer to an earlier 2-film DVD which had both ACCIDENT and Family Way.

This Optimum release is an excellent colour print and, thanks be, is in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen. No cutting off the edges of the film. You get the whole frame here. Applause!

ACCIDENT is a film to watch many times, each time finding something new to appreciate in the subtle performance by the always superb Dirk Bogarde and those by an excellent cast, the nuanced screenplay adaptation of the Nicholas Mosley novel by Harold Pinter, and deft orchestration by director Joseph Losey.

If you are looking for obvious dialogue, superficial plot, action à la car chases, this is not the film. What could have been a cliché love triangle becomes a subtle work which challenges the viewer to listen to what is not said in the actors' sparse dialogue but eloquent in their eyes, body language, and their silences. There is a pleasure and much reward in working through the intriguing layers of the film.

Highly recommended!
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on 22 September 2015
Thoughtful and intelligent film from Joseph Losey was obssessed with the English Class system and this quiet, thoughtful film explored this obssession with fantastic photography. Bit of a pulled punch at the end but a very fine film.
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on 20 June 2009
Now I thought this was a great film. Intriguing plot - why the car crash? all will be revealed. Mesmerising acting: Does anybody tuck their shirt in their trousers the way Stanley Baker does? - I always tuck front in first. The sultry scene on the lawn, the men pensive with libido, the wives passive and commonsensical, I've never seen a hot summer's day captured so well.
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