29 July 2014

Blu-Ray Review - Victim (1961)

Genre: Drama
Distributor: Network
BD Release Date: 28th July 2014 (UK)
Rating: 12
Running Time: 105
Director: Basil Dearden
Cast: Dirk Bogarde, Slyvia Syms, Dennis Price, Nigel Stock
BuyVictim Blu-Ray

The year is 1961 and homosexuality in the UK is still a crime, this was also the year that filmVictim was released.  It became famous for being the first film in the English language to use the word “homosexual” and one of the first films with a sympathetic portrayal of a gay man. It is also widely believed to have played a role in the eventual overturning of the law banning homosexuality.

The police are after a young man named Jack Barrett who has stolen money from his employer and is on the run. He tries to get in contact with the barrister Melville Farr (Dirk Bogarde) who is married but in reality is gay and had an affair with the young man. Barrett commits suicide after he is caught but Melville is blackmailed.

Dirk Bogarde was widely known to be gay but rarely spoke about his own sexuality even in his own autobiography. It took him astonishing courage to take up the part in Victim in 1961 and gives a wonderfully paranoid performance throughout the film. It was a game changer and an important film for Bogarde’s career and for cinematic history.

The cinematography has a slight noir tinge which suits the material very well; Otto Heller who photographed many of the finest British films ever made such as Peeping Tom, The Ladykillers and The Ipcress File shot it. Basil Dearden-who did some of the most unique films to come out of the 50s and 60s British industry, directed it.

Network has done a very impressive disc for such an important film. The transfer is clean and has the right amount of contrast and grain. The features include a half an hour interview with Bogarde shot during the release of Victim and it also includes publicity materials like the original trailer and stills.

Ian Schultz

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