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Victim (1961)

Not Rated | | Drama | 11 October 1961 (Denmark)
The death of a young man leads to the discovery of a blackmail plot against several gay men in 1960s London.

Director:

Basil Dearden

Writers:

Janet Green (by), John McCormick (by) | 2 more credits »
Nominated for 2 BAFTA Film Awards. Another 1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Dirk Bogarde ... Melville Farr
Sylvia Syms ... Laura Farr
Dennis Price ... Calloway
Anthony Nicholls ... Lord Fullbrook
Peter Copley ... Paul Mandrake
Norman Bird ... Harold Doe
Peter McEnery ... Jack Barrett
Donald Churchill ... Eddy Stone
Derren Nesbitt ... Sandy Youth
John Barrie ... Det. Inspector Harris
John Cairney ... Bridie
Alan MacNaughtan ... Scott Hankin
Nigel Stock ... Phip
Frank Pettitt Frank Pettitt ... Barman (as Frank Pettit)
Mavis Villiers ... Madge
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Storyline

A plea for reform of England's anti-sodomy statutes, Melville Farr (Sir Dirk Bogarde), a married lawyer, tries to locate a blackmailer who has photos of Farr and a crying young gay man (who is being blackmailed and later commits suicide) in Farr's car. After the suicide, Farr tracks down other gay men being extorted for money by the same blackmail scheme. Worldly Police Detective Inspector Harris (John Barrie) considers the anti-sodomy law nothing more than a license to blackmailers, and eventually is contacted by Farr to capture the malicious blackmailer. The movie, far ahead of its time, ends with Farr and his loving wife coming to terms with his homosexual tendencies in advance of the public exposure he will face in the team of blackmailers' trial. Written by Mike Mills <mills@colorado.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Some people will be jolted by this motion picture. SOme will be shocked. Because it is a film that deals with perhaps one of the most controversial themes the screen has ever dared touch. Banned by some, praised by others, it is a film experience we invite you to judge for yourself. See more »

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

UK

Language:

English

Release Date:

11 October 1961 (Denmark) See more »

Also Known As:

Teufelskreis See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

GBP153,756 (estimated)

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$25,962
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (pre-censored) | (video)

Sound Mix:

Mono

Aspect Ratio:

1.75 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

This was Dirk Bogarde's first role in an 'X' Rated movie. See more »

Goofs

Camera shadow on the back of a patron as Barrett exits the phone/toilet room. See more »

Quotes

Detective Inspector Harris: I can see you're a true puritan, Bridie. Eh?
Bridie: There's nothing wrong with that, Sir.
Detective Inspector Harris: Of course not. There was a time when that was against the law you know.
See more »


Soundtracks

String Quartet, Op.18
(uncredited)
Music by Ludwig van Beethoven
Arranged by Philip Green
See more »

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User Reviews

 
one of the greatest of gay movies
20 March 2006 | by MOscarbradleySee all my reviews

During his lifetime Dirk Bogarde never admitted to being gay and before his death he destroyed many of his private papers. Nevertheless, his sexuality has long been an open secret and Bogarde's desire to keep his private life private had to be respected. It was, therefore, an astonishingly brave decision to take on the role of Melville Farr, the closeted gay barrister who is willing to 'come out' in order to break a blackmailing ring in Basil Dearden's pioneering thriller "Victim".

Bogarde says he chose the part because he wanted to break free of the matinée idol roles he had played up to that time but by doing so he risked alienating his fan-base. Of course, by playing Farr and subsequent roles in films like "The Servant" and "Death in Venice" it could be argued that he was vicariously acting out on screen what he was feeling in real life.

That "Victim" was made at all is as astonishing as Bogarde's decision to take the lead. This was 1961 and homosexuality was still illegal in Britain. "Victim" broke new ground by making it the central theme and by making the gay characters sympathetic, the victims of the title, and by making the law, (at least in the form of John Barrie's investigating copper), sympathetic to their plight. This was a crusading work and is today largely credited with bring about the change in the law that decriminalized homosexual acts between consenting adults in Great Britain.

Viewed today it is, of course, both melodramatic and didactic. At times it seems the characters aren't saying lines but making speeches. As a thriller it's reasonably exciting, (it's got sufficient red-herrings to keep us guessing), and Dearden admitted that without the thriller element the film might never have been made. (He did something similar with racism in the film "Sapphire").

"Victim" also featured a number of other gay actors in the cast, notably Dennis Price, superb as an ageing actor, and the actor/director Hilton Edwards. Whatever his motives for taking on the role, Bogarde is superb and he has at least one great scene when he finally admits his true nature to his wife, beautifully played by Sylvia Syms. There is certainly no doubt the film has dated and yet it remains one of the greatest of all gay movies.


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