Accident: Pinter-Losey Collaboration, Starring Brilliant Dirk Bogarde

The great British actor Dirk Bogarde gives a mesmerizing performance in this psychologically compelling tale of an Oxford don, who becomes obsessively infatuated with one of his young and beautiful student.

While typing late one night in his country home, Stephen (Bogarde), an Oxford philosophy professor, hears a crash. Running outside, he finds two of his pupils trapped inside a smashed car. William (Michael York) is dead, and Anna (Jacqueline Sassard) is miraculously uninjured, though in a state of shock. Stephen remembers when he and the aristocratic William first met the Austrian Anna at school. In particular, he recalls a leisurely Sunday lunch spent at his own house.

Charley (Stanley Baker), a brash colleague of Stephen’s, had been having an affair with Anna, and Stephen had to deny the seriousness of the matter to Charley’s wife.

Along with “The Servant,” which also stars the brilliant Bogarde, “Accident” is one of director Losey’s best films. ¬†Harold Pinter’s oblique, penetrating dialogue brings out the best qualities in Losey, particularly his downbeat, pessimistic worldview and ambiguous feelings about sexuality.

As Stephen, Bogarde brilliantly captures the mentality of his character, a civilized man who has repressed his sexuality only to find his urges and fantasies resurface during a mid-life crisis (a prevalent onscreen situation for actor Bogarde, as evident in Visconti’s masterpiece, “Death in Venice.”

The rest of the cast is also good, particularly Stanley Baker, who stands out as the amoral but quite likable Charley.

Losey cleverly plays with Pinter’s narrative of shifting-time and oblique dialogue, most notably in the complex structure of a long Sunday lunch sequence, which illustrates the director’s justifiably famous mise-en-scene.

The visual style is elegant yet understated. The beautiful colors of the British countryside are used to mask the sublimated eroticism and emotional despair that lie beneath the surface.

Cast

Rosalind (Vivien Merchant)

Francesca (Delphine Seyrig)

Provost (Alexander Knox)

Laura (Ann Firbank)

Police sergeant (Brian Phelan)

Plained clothed policeman (Terence Rigby)

 

Credits

Script: Harold Pinter, based on the novel by Nicholas Mosley Cinematography: Gerry Fisher Editor: Reginald Beck Music: John Dankworth Art Direction, Carmen Dillon

Running Time: 105 min