Dirk Bogarde

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A Bridge Too Far Review


Good
There are star-studded projects, and then there's A Bridge Too Far, a World War II movie the likes of which would cost upwards of $300 million to make today. There are lots of bridges in the film, actually: The Allies aim to capture a series of them in German-occupied Holland as part of Operation Market-Garden, a byzantine plot that would theoretically cripple the German war machine in western Europe, where Germany is already on the run. However, Allied mistakes and an unexpected amount of German firepower nip the plan in the bud. The film is more a showcase for some searing acting -- and at three hours long, there's plenty of it -- than it is a classic war film. The battle scenes just don't come across as impressively as in other films of the era -- the fact that VW Beetles with plastic tank shells on them were used in lieu of some of the Panzers is just one sign that all the budget went to that exhaustive cast list.

The Night Porter Review


Very Good
Freaky look at post-WWII Nazis living in hiding, plus one concentration camp survivor (Charlotte Rampling) reliving the horrors of the past. When she and her tormentor (Dirk Bogarde) -- now the night porter at a Vienna hotel -- re-encounter one another, they relaunch their sado-masochistic freakshow of a relationship. Of course, Bogarde's pals want "the witness" gotten rid of. More disquieting than gruesome, The Night Porter launched a series of similar films that got progressively more and more explicit. Still, there are a few to many soliloquies and odd non-sequiturs (solo male ballet, anyone?) here, serving to pad the film. Still, groundbreaking might not be the right word but it's certainly the right sentiment.

Continue reading: The Night Porter Review

The Damned Review


OK
Think of it as The Magnificent Nazi Ambersons. Luchino Visconti (Death in Venice) weaves a fictionalized account of 1933-34 Germany as the Nazis rise to power. He follows one family in particular, a wealthy upper-crust bunch of industrialists who throw their lot in with the Nazis, despite some clear abuses in the horizon. These are the titular damned -- having sold their souls pretty much literally in the pursuit of even more wealth.

Along the way Visconti tosses a litany of decadence at us. As if Nazism wasn't enough, we get incest in the family, a little pedophilia, and some cross-dressing and homosexual hijinks. It all culminates in a bloodbath -- the historical "Night of the Long Knives," a one-night, bloody purge of dissidents in Hitler's old private army, the SA (predecessor to the SS), brought on by fears of a coup against his budding rule. Hitler's rule would be solidified after this history-making event.

Continue reading: The Damned Review

Death In Venice Review


OK
Dirk Bogarde's mustache in Death in Venice stands as one of the most disturbing hairstyles ever put on film. Combined with his semi-shaggy banker's do and his 1910s attire (say, sitting on the beach in a white three-piece suit), his appearance is unforgettable even if this movie is relatively otherwise.

Hopelessly abstract to the point of silliness, Death in Venice follows Bogarde's Gustav, a composer, on a holiday to Venice where he's meant to relax. Instead he becomes obsessed with the very idea of "beauty." It's hard to blame him -- he encounters a procession of ugly goons throughout his stay, and the already crumbling city is under seige by an outbreak of cholera. You can almost understand why he's looking for something pretty, but when his gaze lands on an androgynous teenage boy (Björn Andrésen) the film becomes beyond troubling. Gustav chases after the kid for the remainder of the film, obsessing about the cholera but subconsciously engineering ways to keep himself from having to leave Venice.

Continue reading: Death In Venice Review

Darling Review


Extraordinary
Julie Christie stars in a role written for her: the brazen bird Diana Scott, a swinging Londoner who is discovered by a reporter for a street interview, then rises through the European modeling/acting world by sleeping with every man she meets. Laurence Harvey (from The Manchurian Candidate) and Dirk Bogarde are two of the men who use her and vice versa.

Darling exposes the jet-set high society of the mid-'60s with the cynicism and detail of a muckraking documentary. Antonioni and Fellini explored the same milieu, but writer Frederic Raphael is a much sharper and subtler satirist than either. (Raphael is also responsible for Kubrick's Eyes Wide Shut, and Darling's influence on that film is easy to spot). Raphael's script effectively surveys a gallery of posers -- vapid trendsetters, journalists and fashionistas, pretentious artists, and even minor royalty (Diana marries an Italian prince). Though the film drags in a few places, John Schlesinger's direction is generally excellent.

Continue reading: Darling Review

Victim Review


Good
Pioneers are often forgotten. We all remember that Midnight Cowboy was the first X-rated movie to win Best Picture, but who remembers what movie first used the term "homosexual?"

It would be hard to tell the story of Victim without it. This film broke serious ground in 1961 by addressing homosexuality in Britain full-on. At the time, Britain had laws against sodomy, which let blackmailers run rampant against gays. The police didn't seem to care, which made things all the worse. Victim tells the story of just such a case, with a gay lawyer investigating the death of one blackmailer's victim, eventually uncovering a number of men under his thumb and finally taking him to court. The catch: our lawyer (played by the semi-closeted-in-real-life Dirk Bogarde) is also gay (or at least was gay), and the trial will ruin his career as he gets his man. (No pun intended.)

Continue reading: Victim Review

Dirk Bogarde

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Darling Movie Review

Darling Movie Review

Julie Christie stars in a role written for her: the brazen bird Diana Scott, a...

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