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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:

A Daring Picture About the World's Most Un-talked About Subject. 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

Unusually, the many scenes in the pub were all filmed in a real public house, not an interior set on a soundstage. The pub in question was The Salisbury, a famous Victorian gin palace situated on the corner of Cecil Court and St. Martin's Lane, next to the Albery Theatre (where "Oliver" was playing at the time. The posters can be glimpsed in some scenes). This pub was a famous gay pub for decades especially popular with actors, until the brewery installed a new management team in the early 1980s, and it was turned into a tourist pub and ceased to be gay-friendly. However, its original interior features remain, and one can still see the ornate lamps, doors, and mirrors as they appeared in this movie. It was undoubtedly chosen because it would be immediately well-known to gay people who would see this movie and would have been familiar to many of the gay actors who appeared in this movie. See more »

Goofs

When the taxi leaves to take the blackmailer back to base to count the loot, the next shot shows the watching policemen about to give chase, with the same taxi parked on the street behind them. See more »

Quotes

Detective Inspector Harris: Someone once called this law against homosexuality the blackmailer's charter.
Melville Farr: Is that how you feel about it?
Detective Inspector Harris: I'm a policeman, sir. I don't have feelings.
See more »

Connections

Featured in Hollywood U.K.: A Very British Picture (1993) See more »

Soundtracks

Long Stringy Baby
(uncredited)
Written by Trevor Peacock
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Predator And Prey
7 July 2006 | by LechuguillaSee all my reviews

From what I have read, this was the first British film ever to use the word "homosexual" in the dialogue. That may, or may not, be technically true. Regardless, in 1961, overt gay references were risky to filmmakers, at least in Britain and the United States. Thus, the most amazing thing about "Victim" is the simple fact that it was made.

The film's theme is anything but subtle. Viewers in 1961 learn that government laws punish gays and encourage blackmailers, who function as predators to extort money from those whose instincts are out of sync with societal "norms". The film thus portrays gay men as prey, and tending to be secretive, scared, nervous, and sad. Dirk Bogarde gives an excellent performance as a powerful married barrister, secretly gay, who thinks he himself is on the verge of being blackmailed.

But while the film thus has obvious educational benefits, it is also quite entertaining, thanks to the plot rationale, which revolves around trying to guess who the blackmailer is. It's a whodunit mystery. Well into the film, a rather strange looking young man appears on a motorcycle and proceeds to chastise a barber for trying to escape from impending blackmail payments. But is this young man the real blackmailer, or just an envoy?

Adding to the entertaining plot line is the wonderfully off-kilter, noirish lighting from DP Otto Heller. The B&W cinematography conveys an appropriately moody, sometimes sinister, tone, consistent with the film's theme.

Some films try to be educational but end up preachy. Other films succeed at being educational, but lack entertainment value. "Victim" succeeds both as education and as entertainment, owing to its daring and absorbing screen story, its excellent direction, its good performances, and its effective cinematography.


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