The team that turned The Servant into a success took another novel as their plot material – Nicholas Mosley’s Accident – and jacked it into a haunting study in relationships, with Harold Pinter’s flair for spare, suggestive dialog getting full scope in an adaptation which stays remarkably faithful to the book.
It starts with a car crash splitting that night air of the quiet countryside outside Oxford. A male student has been killed, and his female companion, a campus gal, is taken into the neighboring mansion, occupied by the university teacher (Dirk Bogarde) who has been instructing them both in philosophy.
The accident sparks the prolonged flashback that explores the tight-knit relationship of this enclosed community.
A firstrate cast is headed by Bogarde, who wins sympathy for his superficially cold character, and his contained way with emotion is superbly right. But the main acting surprise is contributed by Stanley Baker, unusually bespectacled as the amorous Charlie, and wittily suggesting the man’s self-esteem and his lonely search for horizontal satisfaction.