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Basil Dearden’s brave, sober exposé of England’s repressive homosexual laws launched Dirk Bogarde’s career change as a serious international actor.

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  • Director Basil Dearden
  • Producer Michael Relph
  • Screenwriters Janet Green, John McCormick
  • With Dirk Bogarde, Sylvia Syms, Dennis Price, Derren Nesbitt, Norman Bird, Peter McEnery
  • UK 1961
  • 101 mins
  • PG
  • UK distribution Park Circus

Compromised though it had to be in 1961, Basil Dearden’s brave exposé of England’s iniquitous homosexual laws retains its groundbreaking status, both influencing the course of justice and lifting Dirk Bogarde’s acting career, despite the risk to his popularity, on to a new plane of deeply desired seriousness. Bogarde plays a gay barrister involved with a young man who commits suicide after being blackmailed. He must either shut up or come out. His choice of the latter course puts a strain on both his marriage and his reputation. While the character hinted at Bogarde’s own ambivalent sexuality, it was also the right moment for the matinée idol to seek the more demanding roles he craved. As for the film, its clear intention was to normalise homosexuality rather than glamorise it; its success in doing so is Dearden’s abiding achievement. This immaculate restoration is by ITV Studios Global Entertainment and Park Circus.

Clyde Jeavons

Read the Time Out review.

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