Producer Michael Relph, director Basil Dearden and writers Janet Green and John McCormick (the team which produced Sapphire, involving racial prejudice) adopt a similar technique with Victim. They provide a taut, holding thriller about blackmailers latching on to homosexuals and at the same time take several critical swipes at the British law which encourages the blackmailing by making homos criminal outcasts.

Producer Michael Relph, director Basil Dearden and writers Janet Green and John McCormick (the team which produced Sapphire, involving racial prejudice) adopt a similar technique with Victim. They provide a taut, holding thriller about blackmailers latching on to homosexuals and at the same time take several critical swipes at the British law which encourages the blackmailing by making homos criminal outcasts.

Dirk Bogarde plays a successful barrister who is on the verge of becoming a Queen’s Counsel. He is happily married to a wife (Sylvia Syms) who knew of his homo leanings when she married him but has successfully helped him to lead a normal life. He refuses to see a youth (Peter McEnery) with whom he previously has had association because he fears possible blackmail. Instead the boy is trying to protect the barrister from blackmail. The youth commits suicide, Bogarde is caught up in enquiries by the cops and, from remorse, sets out to break the blackmailers even though he knows that if the facts come out it will ruin his marriage and his career.

The homosexuals involved are not caricatures but are shown as varying human beings. There are a philanthropist peer, an actor, an aging barber, a hearty car salesman from a good family, a photographer, a bookseller and a factory clerk.

Bogarde is subtle, sensitive and strong. Syms handles a difficult role with delicacy and there is one memorable scene when the two quarrel after she forces him to admit what she doesn’t want to hear. This is telling, moving stuff.

Victim

UK

Production

Allied Film Makers. Director Basil Dearden; Producer Michael Relph; Screenplay Janet Green, John McCormick; Camera Otto Heller; Editor John D. Guthridge; Music Philip Green; Art Director Alex Vetchinsky

Crew

(B&W) Available on VHS, DVD. Extract of a review from 1961. Running time: 100 MIN.

With

Dirk Bogarde Sylvia Syms Dennis Price Anthony Nicholls Peter McEnery Nigel Stock
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