Tag Archives: Dirk Bogarde

The Night Porter (1974)

the night porter 3

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 8 out of 10

4-Word Review: A strange sadomasochistic relationship.

As the title suggests this film deals with the darkness of the human mind, relationships, sex and society as a whole and has a Freaudian theme of exploring the weird sexual obsessions of those who on the outside may seem perfectly functional and ‘normal’.

The story focuses on a concentration camp survivor Lucia (Charlotte Rampling) who twelve years later, by chance, meets her former captor Maximilian (Dirk Bogarde). She is now married while he is working as a night porter at the hotel she is staying at. The twist here is that she decides to go back to him and continue the bizarre sex rituals they once had.

The film’s most interesting aspect is focusing on the long term psychological ramifications of those surviving traumatic experiences. It looks both at the victims and the captors who now must learn to ‘rationalize’ their guilty conscious and it questions whether anyone can truly function normally after surviving such severe circumstances or whether society has any ability to make someone ‘adjust’.

This is definitely complex material and director Liliana Cavani has a good grasp on it. The shot compositions are full of stark shadows with a definite emphasis on the surreal, which comes to play the most during the sadomasochistic fantasy segments.

The problem with the film lies in the fact that it doesn’t have the intended strong impact. There’s no momentum or discernible tension. The characters are complex, but not that interesting and we really don’t care particularly what happens to them.

The films strongest point is actually in its final sequence, which brings the whole thing together. Like in any great movie there’s the one shot that says it all and here it’s the final one where visually, without saying anything, it shows just how isolated these outsiders truly are. It also exposes how their personal demons have imprisoned them and how dysfunctional society is at handling them.

the night porter 2

My Rating: 8 out of 10

Released: April 3, 1974

Runtime: 1Hour 58Minutes

Rated R

Director: Liliana Cavani

Studio: AVCO Embassy Pictures

Available: VHS, DVD, Blu-ray, Amazon Instant Video

Our Mother’s House (1967)

our mothers house 1

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 6 out of 10

4-Word Review: Life after mother dies.

Seven children live with their mother inside a large English house. She is sickly and when she dies they decide to keep it a secret by burying her body in the back garden and then continuing on as normal as they fear they will otherwise be sent off to an orphanage. Things go surprisingly well for the most part, but then their alcoholic father Charlie (Dirk Bogarde) reappears after a long absence, which sends everything spiraling out of control.

Director Jack Clayton lends an amazing amount of control and freedom to the child performers and the result is fantastic. The kids give solid performances and really carry the movie. Margaret Brooks as Elsa is a standout and shows great maturity especially with the way she stands up to the Bogarde character. Phoebe Nicholls is also terrific and looks like a young Sandy Dennis. Mark Lester did this just before doing his star turn in Oliver and he is cute, but his stuttering is annoying.

Although the character is obnoxious, one-dimensional and predictable Bogarde does a fine job as always in his part in what was a bit of an offbeat turn for him as he doesn’t appear until about forty-five minutes in. Yootha Joyce is entertaining with her bit as the children’s callous nanny. She has interesting facial expressions and voice tones, which makes the most of her otherwise small role. She is probably most famous for playing the equivalent of the Mrs. Roper character in the British version of ‘Three’s a Company’, which was ‘Man about the House’ and it is a shame that alcoholism cut both her career and life short.

The film weaves an interesting atmosphere and this is the type of story where you have no idea where it is going. I also liked some of the side diversions that Clayton incorporates including having the children take a boat ride around the famous Dinosaur Court in the Crystal Palace Park. Erected in 1854 these were the very first dinosaur sculptures ever made in the world.

I also found it interesting that there are scenes showing the children praying and even reading Bible verses. This is not a spiritual film in any way and I personally have no stand on the issue, but it brought to mind how mainstream films today never show anyone ever praying even though a lot of regular people still do it and by putting it into the story it makes it more realistic instead of less.

The only real issue that I had with the movie that otherwise has some very intriguing elements is the ending, which comes pretty close to being a copout and leaves way too many loose ends open.

My Rating: 6 out of 10

Released: October 9, 1967

Runtime: 1Hour 44Minutes

Not Rated

Director: Jack Clayton

Studio: MGM

Available: YouTube