The Servant

The Servant

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The Servant (1963/1964)

Opened (Note on dates*): 03/16/1964 Limited

Venice Film Fe...09/03/1963
UKNovember 1963
Limited03/16/1964
Film Forum07/26/2013 - 08/01/20137 days
Re-issue07/26/2013
Royal08/30/2013 - 09/12/201314 days
Playhouse 708/30/2013 - 09/05/20137 days

Trailer: Click for trailer

Websites: Home

Genre: British Drama

Rated: Unrated

Synopsis

A man walks down a dreary London street and enters a newly sold, and unlocked, house. He enters, searches through the unfurnished space for the occupant, and finds Tony, the owner of the house, sleeping fully clothed on a folding chair. He wakes Tony up and introduces himself as Barrett, an applicant for a position as Tony's manservant. Tony groggily gives him the gist of what he needs: to be generally taken care of.

Over the next few weeks, Barrett oversees the renovation and decoration of the house while Tony settles into his role as "master." When everything is in place, the house has been transformed into a well appointed home.

After dinner with his fiance Susan, Tony talks about the progress (or lack thereof) of a business venture of his in South America. When their intimate rendezvous is interrupted by Barrett "accidentally" walking in on them, Susan expresses her anger about Barrett's constant presence and leaves. Tensions between Susan and Barrett gradually increase.

With the house settled into a routine, Barrett tells Tony that he has invited his sister Vera to work at the house as a maid, an arrangement that Tony has approved.

Tony meets Susan for dinner, while Barrett goes to meet Vera at the train station. Susan tells Tony that she doesn't trust Barrett. A series of petty conversations swirl around them as they dine. In the cab from the station, Vera touches Barrett's leg in a way that does not seem sisterly. They get back to the house and Vera moves into her room next to Barrett's.

Tony finds himself in a series of fraught circumstances with Vera, starting with awkwardly hiding his naked chest when she delivers his breakfast in bed. When she returns to the kitchen, Barrett leers at her in silence until things are not so silent anymore. Later when Barrett asks for the day off so he and Vera can visit their sick mother, Tony, in typical petulant form, orders him to take the following day. After Barrett asks Tony to speak with Vera about her inappropriate attire, Tony walks in on Vera in his bathtub. Tony leaves in a huff and Barrett joins her in the bathroom.

The next day, Tony watches Vera and Barrett leave for the country. That night he is surprised to find Vera standing behind him in the kitchen. While explaining her presence, the phone rings, but neither answer. Vera gets up on the kitchen table and complains coyly about the heat in the room. They embrace on the table.

Barrett returns to a house in complete disarray, but tells Tony that he'll be out late that night. Taking the opportunity, Tony conjures some romantic ambience for Vera. Unbeknownst to Tony, Barrett is in Vera's bed. She joins Tony.

Some time later, Susan appears at the house and starts ordering Barrett around and is generally unpleasant. She confronts him on what "he wants" in the house. He feigns ignorance.

After a trip to the country, Tony and Susan return to London to find the light on in his bedroom. Barrett appears naked at the top of the stairs, sees Tony and Susan, but unconcernedly returns to the bedroom when Vera calls him back. Tony yells for Barrett to come downstairs and demands an explanation, accusing Barrett of incest. Barrett reveals that Vera is not his sister, but his fiancee. Vera confirms that fact and Tony tells them to leave. They chat happily as they gather their things and leave. Tony starts drinking. Susan leaves shortly after.

Tony wanders in dismay, drinking his way through London, until he ends up at a bar where Barrett is also drinking alone. Barrett buys him a drink and tells him that he was besotted by Vera and that they were saving up money to get married. He says that he didn't know what was going on between Tony and Vera and when they left, Vera disappeared with his money. He blames his deception on Vera and asks Tony for another chance.

Tony takes Barrett back, but the two men's relationship has changed dramatically. Barrett speaks his mind and Tony does the same, but there is still a remnant of the master/servant relationship. Tony wakes Barrett up and demands that he clean up a carpet, threatening to throw him out. Barrett laughs and ignores his commands. While playing a ball game on the stairs, Tony throws the ball into Barrett's face, making Barrett threaten to leave. Tony desperately wants Barrett to stay and tells him how grateful he is to Barrett for his work.

On a rainy night, Vera shows up wanting to talk to Tony. She asks him for money and professes her love for him. Barrett grabs her, but once out of Tony's sight only pretends to toss her out. Later, Barrett pressures Tony to drink some brandy against Tony's wishes. They have a discussion, which ends with Tony offering to join in on the work of keeping the house clean.

Susan appears again as Tony drunkenly stares into space. He warns her against being at the house as the doorbell rings and Barrett lets some women in, including Vera. Tony leaves Susan and goes into the bedroom where the women are lounging. Susan enters the room and dazedly confronts Barrett, only to end up kissing him. Tony stumbles toward her and the other women laugh maniacally.

Tony crashes to the floor and orders them out. Barrett lightly ushers the women out, except Susan and Vera. Barrett flippantly tells Susan to leave. She slaps him across the face and runs out of the house to cry on the street. Barrett locks the front door, turns out the light, and joins Vera in the master bedroom while Tony passes out on the floor.

 

Trailer