Victim (1961)

Genres - Drama  |   Sub-Genres - Crime Drama, Psychological Drama, Gay & Lesbian Films  |   Release Date - Feb 5, 1962 (USA)  |   Run Time - 100 min.  |   Countries - United Kingdom   |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Motion pictures were entering a new era of greater permissiveness in the 1960s. Victim, released in 1962, helped to push out the boundaries with regard to cinematic acknowledgement of homosexuality and is for that reason, something of a landmark in film history. At the same time, because many of the societal advances the film endorses have been achieved, Victim inevitably feels somewhat dated. However, it very powerfully presents the fear and persecution (both legal and inner) with which gay individuals lived at the time. Basil Dearden's on-the-mark direction often makes the viewer squirm in sympathetic discomfort. Dearden's best work is in the first 15 minutes, as we watch Peter McEnery desperately seeking help and finding that there is none to be had. Victim's biggest asset is star Dirk Bogarde, proving here that he was an actor of depth and substance rather than just a matinee idol. The character's inner torture is always present, though often subtly. The way in which Bogarde lets a brief smile flicker across his face when realizing that the other men with him share his secret is especially telling. He is matched by Sylvia Sims, whose conflicting love, anger, and hurt upon learning she has been deceived are wonderfully expressed. Bogarde would give another masterful performance a year later in The Servant.