``

Film Series / Events

Search All Film Series (1999-present)
Browse All Film Series

August 1 - August 11

The Complete Joseph Losey (August)

For nearly all of his long and remarkably productive career, Joseph Losey (1909-1984) was a filmmaker in exile. Losey's brief yet promising Hollywood career was abruptly derailed when his outspoken commitment to leftist politics made him a choice target of the House Un-American Activities Committee. Threatened by almost certain blacklisting and possible imprisonment, Losey fled to Europe in search of work and political sanctuary. Once abroad, he began to refine his more complex, mature style and draw the attention of European critics – especially the French, who first recognized him as an important auteur. Although Losey remained deeply contemptuous of the American film industry, he nevertheless longed, in vain, to make another film in his native land. Losey's difficult experience of the blacklist and the long, wandering life of an expatriate indelibly marked his career, shaping certain dominant motifs of his films – the recurring figure of the outsider, the recasting of class and gender roles into dark, ritualistic role-play, and the pessimistic representation of mainstream society as a world ruled by coldness, hypocrisy and implacable violence.

The extraordinary range of Losey's oeuvre is showcased in the HFA's once-in-a-lifetime complete retrospective. Beyond the bold, uncompromising political convictions that unite Losey's work lies a rich and underappreciated experimental vein that alternately embraces the high camp of Boom! and Modesty Blaise, the sheer, wonderful weirdness of Secret Ceremony and the sophisticated comedy of The Romantic Englishwoman. The seeming contradictions of Losey's oeuvre remain among its most fascinating aspects – its marriage of mid-Western chastity with European decadence, of fierce political allegory with an obscure, operatic aesthetic and a restless searching for redemption and spirituality within the worn and degraded. Losey's status as one of postwar America and Europe's most accomplished filmmakers rests in the rare and often uneasy balance found within all of his work between complexity and lucidity, between profundity and shimmering, treacherously entrancing reflective surfaces.

Special thanks to Patricia Losey; Isa Cucinotta, Film Society of Lincoln Center; Pierre Jutras, Marco de Blois, Stéphanie Côté, Cinémathèque québécoise; Peter Conheim; Fleur Buckley, British Film Institute; Bob McMinn, Lakeshore Entertainment; Carmen Accaputo, Cineteca di Bologna; Caroline Yeager Lee Ann Duggan, George Eastman House; Mark McElhatten; Mary Keene, Film Department, Museum of Modern Art (New York); Marleen Labijt, Netherlands Filmmseum; May Haduong, Academy Film Archive; Christine Houard, Ministère des affaires étrangères; Brigitte Bouvier, Consulate General of France, Boston; Delphine Selles-Alvarez, Cultural Services of the French Embassy (New York); Kathy Dunn, Boston Public Library; Monique Faulhaber, Cinémathèque française; Sara Rubin, Boston Jewish Film Festival.

Browse Other Series from this Season
Return to Top

Friday August 1 at 7pm

The Go-Between

Directed by Joseph Losey.
With Michael Redgrave, Julie Christie, Alan Bates
UK 1971, 35mm, color, 118 min.
Print from the Harvard Film Archive Collection

For his third and final collaboration with Pinter, Losey returns once more to the subject of youth in this haunting coming of age tale about a fateful summer spent by Leo, a middle-class boy, at the sumptuous country home of a wealthy school chum. Based on L.P. Hartley's celebrated and eponymous novel, the film follows Leo's discovery of a secret, transgressive love affair. One of Losey's uncontested masterpieces, The Go-Between finds Losey again exploring the dire consequences of repressive bourgeois privilege, but now with a new, almost Proustian sense of nostalgia. Winner of the Palm D'Or at Cannes, The Go- Between masterfully evokes turn-of-the-century mores and commands incredible performances by Julie Christie and Alan Bates.

Browse Other Series from this Season
Return to Top

Friday August 1 at 9:15pm

The Damned (aka These Are the Damned)

Directed by Joseph Losey.
With MacDonald Carey, Shirley Ann Field, Oliver Reed
US 1962, 35mm, b/w, 87 min.
Print from Sony Pictures Repertory

Losey's only work in the science fiction/horror genre is one of his strangest and most unforgettable films. A disquieting exploration of a world gone wrong, The Damned follows a couple on the run from a gang of musically inclined juvenile delinquents. They stumble upon a scientist (Alexander Knox) working on a top-secret government project: an experiment on a group of children with mysterious powers. Using a moody script by The Boy With Green Hair writer Ben Barzman, Losey effectively harnesses conventions of the postwar horror film – scary children, Cold War paranoia – to create a strange and haunting apocalyptic allegory.

Browse Other Series from this Season
Return to Top

Free Screening
Sunday August 3 at 3pm

A Doll's House

Directed by Joseph Losey.
With Jane Fonda, Delphine Seyrig, David Warner
UK/France 1973, 16mm, color, 106 min.
Print courtesy of Boston Public Library

Losey's continued interest in strong female characters and feminist
themes led him to Ibsen's groundbreaking 1879 drama. For his version, Losey turned to British playwright and screenwriter David Mercer (Providence) to open up the play and add scenes to dramatize material provided as expository dialogue in Ibsen's original. Friction during the shooting – co-stars Jane Fonda and Delphine Seyrig resisted Losey's direction in protest to what they saw as a betrayal and dilution of Ibsen's radical vision – manifests in a certain palpable tension in the film. In the end, however, both actresses turn in first-rate performances, especially Fonda as Ibsen's proto-feminist heroine Nora Helmer.

Browse Other Series from this Season
Return to Top

Sunday August 3 at 8pm

Mr. Klein (M. Klein)

Directed by Joseph Losey.
With Alain Delon, Jeanne Moreau, Suzanne Flon
France 1976, 35mm, color, 123 min.
French with English subtitles
Print courtesy of the Frennch Ministry of Foreign Affairs

For his first French-language film Losey cast Alain Delon as the titular anti-hero, an apolitical art dealer in Nazioccupied Paris startled to learn that he has a double – a Jewish refugee using Delon's identity to escape deportation and death. In search for his mysterious doppelganger, Klein sets in motion a dangerous, elusive process that ultimately endangers his own protected Aryan status – a striking return to the theme of lost identity first seen in The Servant. Delon's convincing reserve, similar to that of his steel-hearted criminals in Jean-Pierre Melville's thrillers, helps to make Mr. Klein one of Losey's bleakest and most frightening works. The cold dispassionateness of Mr. Klein's unmistakably critical attitude towards the virulent anti-Semitism of war-torn Paris makes the film even more unsettling.

Browse Other Series from this Season
Return to Top

Monday August 4 at 7pm

Stranger on the Prowl (Imbarco a Mezzanotte)

Directed by Joseph Losey.
With Paul Muni, Vittorio Manunta, Joan Lorring
Italy 1952, 35mm, b/w, 82 min. In English with Italian subtitles
Print courtesy of Cineteca di Bologna

Losey's only Italian film – and his first work in exile – literally and figuratively bridges film noir and neo-realism with its poignant tale of two forsaken loners thrown together by fate. The great Paul Muni, in a rarely seen late role, plays a nameless drifter who haunts a desolate port where he befriends a wily street urchin when they are brought together by a gun and a terrible accident. An excellent depiction of war-torn Italy, shot using principally non-studio locations, Stranger on the Prowl continues the fascination with loners, outsiders and those on the margins found throughout Losey's Hollywood films. Print courtesy of Cineteca di Bologna, restored by Cineteca di Bologna in cooperation with Cinémathèque Française and Comune di Pisa.

Browse Other Series from this Season
Return to Top

Monday August 4 at 9pm

Blind Date (aka Chance Meeting)

Directed by Joseph Losey.
With Stanley Baker, Micheline Presle, Hardy Kruger
UK 1958, 16mm, b/w, 90 min.

An up-and-coming Dutch painter living in London, Jan (Kruger)
rushes to a rendezvous with an older woman, only to be met by a no-nonsense police detective (Baker) who accuses Jan of murder. As Jan tells his story in flashback, the detective comes to understand the artist as an innocent led astray by the corrupting influences of wealth and power, and even to identify with him, given the working class background both men share. As with so many of Losey's first films in England, genre (the whodunit, in this case) is made to serve as a vehicle for trenchant social critique. As the tough but shrewd detective, remarkable Welsh actor Stanley Baker gives his first of four gripping performances for Losey.

Browse Other Series from this Season
Return to Top

Friday August 8 at 7pm

Modesty Blaise

Directed by Joseph Losey.
With Monica Vitti, Terence Stamp, Dirk Bogarde
US 1966, 35mm, color, 119 min.
Print from 20th Century Fox

As the title character, Monica Vitti incarnates the comicstrip heroine, a cross between Barbarella and James Bond. The film's plot finds secret agent Blaise and her faithful sidekick Willie Garvin (Stamp) teaming up to defeat effete super-villain Gabriel (Bogarde). The adventure has something to do with diamonds, but it should come as no surprise that the plot comes second to the fabulous production design by Richard McDonald, plus Losey's typically eccentric visual style here accented with a pop-art nod to the swinging '60s. The film achieves a truly strange kind of high camp in its attempt to satirize the source material, which itself originated as a lighthearted spoof of the crime-fighting adventures of 007 and his ilk.

Browse Other Series from this Season
Return to Top

Friday August 8 at 9:30pm

Youth Gets a Break

Directed by Joseph Losey.
US 1941, video, b/w, 20 min.

The State Department's purchase of A Child Went Forth led to a commission from the National Youth Association – then headed by Lyndon Johnson – for a documentary highlighting NYA's efforts to provide work and job training for young people in order to prevent poverty. Once again the as-yet inexperienced Losey found himself working with stellar talent, this time with veteran activist filmmakers Willard Van Dyke and Ralph Steiner.

The Lawless

Directed by Joseph Losey.
With Macdonald Carey, Gail Russell, John Sands
US 1950, 16mm, b/w, 81 min.
Print courtesy of George Eastman House

Losey's least-seen American film offers a riveting example of the stripped down, urgent realism central to his brief Hollywood career, in strong contrast to the overt stylization that would became a signature feature of his European films. Ahead of its time for its focus on marginalized migrant workers, The Lawless gives an impassioned voice to the angry distrust of Main Street U.S.A. that echoes throughout Losey's early work. Making vivid use of Los Angeles locations and balancing its cast between studio contract players and non-actors from the migrant community, The Lawless offers a rare glimpse into the class turmoil of 1940s America.

Browse Other Series from this Season
Return to Top

Saturday August 9 at 7pm

King and Country

Directed by Joseph Losey.
With Tom Courtenay, Dirk Bogarde, Leo McKern
UK 1964, 35mm, b/w, 86 min.
Print from the Harvard Film Archive Collection

In the thick of the brutal trench warfare of World War I France, British Private Arthur Hamp (Courtenay), shellshocked after a particularly brutal attack, elects to walk home to England from the front. When he is subsequently court-martialed, his assigned defender, Captain Hargreaves (Bogarde), finds that the private is just a simple boy from the country. As Hargreaves slowly begins to appreciate the helplessness of Hamp and other enlisted men, he is forced to confront the horror of war and the fatal consequences of the hierarchies of officer and enlistee, rich and poor, within the army. After The Lawless, Time Without Pity and The Damned, this is the last of Losey's "message pictures."

Browse Other Series from this Season
Return to Top

Saturday August 9 at 9pm

Boom!

Directed by Joseph Losey.
With Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, Noël Coward
UK 1968, 35mm, color, 113 min.
Print courtesy of Universal Studios

A brilliantly eccentric adaptation of Tennessee Williams' play The
Milk Train Doesn't Stop Here Anymore
, Losey's cult classic is considered one of the great examples of high camp cinema. Eager to continue her association with Williams after the screen versions of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and Suddenly Last Summer, Elizabeth Taylor agreed to star as a fabulously wealthy writer sequestered in her villa on Capri and visited by a mysterious man, played by her thenhusband Richard Burton, who may just be an angel of death. Noël Coward co-stars as a gossipy neighbor known as "the Witch of Capri," a role originally played onstage by a woman.

Browse Other Series from this Season
Return to Top

Monday August 11 at 7pm

The Trout (La Truite)

Directed by Joseph Losey.
With Isabelle Huppert, Jean-Pierre Cassel, Jeanne Moreau
France 1982, 35mm, color, 105 min. French with English subtitles
Print courtesy of Cinémathèque Québéçoise

The Trout is a meditative revisiting of Eva, with Isabelle Huppert now playing a self-conscious 1980s femme fatale and Jeanne Moreau in a cameo role. Instead of a writer, this time the male prey is a banker, and instead of decadent old Venice, Losey stages the battlefield for the war between the sexes in the brave new world of international finance in Switzerland and in Tokyo. Huppert plays a precocious young woman plucked by a married financier from the obscurity of a trout farm in the Swiss countryside. Losey reportedly cast Huppert in part because of her ability to play comedy and tragedy simultaneously, and indeed, the film is both serious drama and the blackest of comedies.

Browse Other Series from this Season
Return to Top

Monday August 11 at 9pm

Steaming

Directed by Joseph Losey.
With Vanessa Redgrave, Sarah Miles, Diana Dors
UK 1984, video, color, 95 min.

Losey's last feature film is an adaptation of a popular play by British writer Nell Dunn that takes place entirely in the London Turkish bath where a group of women first met and became friends. The news of the bath's closure reunites the women to discuss their past experiences and future plans and, eventually, to band together to defend the beloved bathhouse. While Steaming's all female ensemble marks an unusual departure in Losey's oeuvre, the film extends his interest in willful and outspoken female characters seen in so many of his films. Poignantly, Losey's final act as a director sees the usual Loseyesque conflicts over class, gender and power give way to a new emphasis on community and hope.

Browse Other Series from this Season
Return to Top
Harvard Film Archive • Carpenter Center • 24 Quincy Street • Cambridge MA 02138 • 617-495-4700