'You call this a screenplay? I don't know who these people are, I don't know what their background is, I don't know what they're doing, I don't know who's doing what and why, I don't know what they want, I have absolutely no idea what is going on, how can you call this a screenplay?' said perplexed producer Sam Spiegel to Harold Pinter and Joseph Losey when he called them into his office to discuss the script for 1967's Accident.

The director and the writer assured Spiegel they knew what the screenplay was about and yet, he blustered in reply, 'You two might know what's going on but what about all the millions of peasants in China?' (1) Spiegel had bought the rights to Nicholas Mosley's 1965 titular novel on the advice of Losey and his fellow Horizon Pictures producer Jud Kinberg. Losey turned to Pinter to undertake the screen adaptation shortly after the writer had completed work on Michael Anderson's The Quiller Memorandum (1966) in the summer of 1965.

While he completed the drafts of the script with Losey's input, a first draft arriving July 1965 followed by a second draft in September, a number of intense meetings between Spiegel, Pinter and Losey took place in Amsterdam and Sicily during Losey's shoot on Modesty Blaise (1966). When Spiegel attempted to isolate Pinter from Losey by inviting him to write on his yacht it became clear to them both that Spiegel wanted to not only interfere with the screenplay but also have his say on other aspects of the film, including casting. (2)

Their early suggestion for Dirk Bogarde as the lead baffled Spiegel: 'What do you want Bogarde for? Who's ever heard of him?' BAFTA begged to differ in the Spring of 1966 when Bogarde picked up a Best Actor gong for his work in John Schlesinger's Darling (1965). Spiegel insisted he could get Richard Burton but that the production would have to wait a year for him. Meanwhile, Bogarde received the script in January 1966 as a courtesy but was so concerned at the suggestion of such an actor for the lead part, he begged them to at least try and get Paul Schofield to play the lead role. (3)

"we don't like it, we don't understand it, but go ahead and make it"
Pinter had in the meantime taken Mosley's novel, written in a free association style, about a complex network of relationships unfolding during a summer in Oxford, and transformed it with several drastic alterations. He dispensed with Oxford don Stephen Jervis as the first person narrator and made him the protagonist. Stephen, married with children, is in crisis and attempting to orchestrate an affair with a young Austrian aristocrat, Anna von Granz und Loeben, who is also one of his philosophy pupils.

He is, however, in competition for her attentions with William, another of his pupils and son of Lord Codrington, and a fellow don, Charley Hall. He envies his pupil for his youthful vitality and his colleague for his media success and sexual prowess. Jealously, pride, moral bankruptcy and a conflict between intellect and emotion literally result in a car crash in which William is killed and Anna is culpable as a drunk driver. The car crash initiates the narrative and the entire story, of how these three people were set on a collision course, unfolds in flashback.

In his stream of consciousness narrative, Mosley understood the car crash as 'the catalyst in the sense that people can carry on with the difficult tormented relationships, keep them spinning until something disastrous... makes them think about their responsibilities.' (4) Pinter and Losey kept this premise but altered Stephen's motives and the relationship between him and Charley. In the book, Stephen never physically connects with Anna and instead turns for help to Charley as a friend, the trauma of the car crash having ceased their rivalry. In the film, Stephen forces himself sexually onto the stunned Anna just hours after the car crash and then keeps her culpability in the crash a secret, in the form of sexual blackmail, from the police and from Charley.

Pinter was concerned his changes would upset Mosley and he sent him the script in April 1966 with a covering letter explaining the changes: 'As you see, there's one major deviation, change - the fact that Stephen sleeps with Anna and that Charley knows nothing about anything at the end.' (5) Mosley praised Pinter's spare, controlled script and, although he did object to the trajectory Pinter had set Stephen on, he understood in pragmatic terms, 'one knew that if one was going to have a Pinter script one was going to have one's characters brutalized.' (6)

Pinter and Losey preferred not to wait for Burton and eventually persuaded Spiegel to part with the rights to the film, buying them back for $30,000 and a percentage. With Bogarde on board in the lead as Stephen, the Oxford philosophy don struggling with a mid-life crisis, they went off in search of finance. Losey recalled: 'I cannot tell how many people turned down Accident and the people who finally made it said, "we don't like it, we don't understand it, but go ahead and make it".' Those who came to that conclusion were John Terry at the National Film Finance Corporation and Sydney Box at London Independent Productions who both invested £150,000. (7)

In May 1966, Losey and Bogarde were promoting Modesty Blaise at the Cannes Film Festival and Losey indicated he was keen to meet young British actor Michael York with a view to considering him for the role of one of Stephen's students, William. York had previously appeared with Bogarde in Basil Dearden's under rated The Mind Benders (1962) and was then filming Franco Zeffirelli's The Taming of the Shrew (1967) in Rome with Burton and Taylor.

Securing the role after flying to Rome for something of an impromptu audition in Cannes, York recalled that 'Dirk told me afterwards that he managed with some difficulty to persuade Joe that a British aristocrat can have a broken nose.' (8) He observed that the Losey-Bogarde relationship seemed to function as 'an attraction of two opposites' and even though he came to respect Losey, it was fellow actor Bogarde who took him under his wing and tutored him in screen acting.

Further casting brought on board Jacqueline Sassard, to play Anna, Stanley Baker as Charley and Delphine Seyrig as Francesca, Stephen's old flame. Working with Losey on some of his first British films such as Blind Date (1959), The Criminal (1960) and Eve (1962) Baker had successfully extended his career profile. Bogarde was not particularly keen on Baker's casting in Accident but mellowed after his initial impression that he was 'too thuggish, too much the working class lad. He arrived in a toupee and lots of make-up and was always doing his eyelashes for the first two days. After that he was terrific, wonderful - I was very fond of him.' (9)

Seyrig, her international reputation made with roles in Alain Resnais's Last Year at Marienbad (1961) and Muriel ou Le temps d'un retour (1963) was apparently persuaded to take time out of her busy schedule with the prospect of two days of filming in England. She found the experience a positive one and wrote to Losey, praising the production and 'especially that English Bogey - ah, what a wonderful actor - and partner he is.' (10) Losey rather terrified Sassard and brought in tutors to improve her English and at one point considered dubbing her role.

Mosley, spending a day or two on set to film a cameo appearance with Bogarde, Baker and Alexander Knox, also worried about Bogarde's ability to act out Stephen's longing for Sassard's character Anna and Seyrig's Francesca: 'I thought Dirk can act this, he can act that, but I didn't really see how he could smoulder with lust for this young girl or indeed for the older woman played by Delphine Seyrig, in the middle of the film.' (11) Bogarde was also very uneasy about how the character of Stephen forced himself on the injured Anna and resisted the scene as long as he could but 'Joe wanted it desperately badly... It was bestial and I think Joe wanted that crudity.' (12)

Although it was an Oxford set story, in February 1966 Losey first attempted to secure locations at a number of Cambridge colleges before he began a correspondence with the heads of Oxford's Christ Church, Magdalen, New College and St. John's. Before filming finally took place in Canterbury Quad at St. John's College and the river adjacent to Magdalen, Losey did the rounds. Magdalen President T.S.R. Boase watered and fed Losey and then turned down the request on the basis that the female undergraduate Anna slept with not one, but two dons.

New College also rejected the proposal for filming because Mosley's book was connected to a car accident involving a New College undergraduate at Raymond Carr's country house of which a dim view had been taken, losing Carr his fellowship at the college. Carr, a Warden of St. Anthony's was neither a fan of Losey's nor of Pinter's and he criticised the finished film as 'a farcical caricature of a small social set - and even not that accurate in detail.' (13)

Location filming commenced 4 July 1966 at the Oxford college locations, then continued at Norwood Farm Hall in Cobham, for Stephen's country house, and at Syon House, London to represent Lord Codrington's ancestral home. Interiors for various college rooms and the country house were all constructed and filmed at Twickenham.

The location shooting in Surrey was beset with very changeable weather, as Losey explained: 'all those summer scenes were shot in icy-cold weather and a lot of it was rain... we would often prepare a shot for some hours and then get forty-five seconds to shoot it; and if it wasn't right on the first take, there wasn't time to do another... so it took us days and days to get the stuff.' (14)

Joining Losey's team, with returning producer Norman Priggen and composer Johnny Dankworth, were cinematographer Gerry Fisher and assistant director Richard Dalton. Like Bogarde and Baker, both would enjoy a long collaborative working relationship with Losey. Fisher had been a camera operator on Modesty Blaise and was already admired by Losey when he hired him after his first choice, Douglas Slocombe, was unavailable.

He had something of a baptism of fire shooting the Oxford based scenes when Losey declared his unhappiness with the rushes. He also struggled with the summer weather and outdoor scenes were 'made up of tiny stitches and pieces like a tapestry.' However, Fisher would work again with Losey on Secret Ceremony (1968), the third film with Pinter The Go-Between (1970), A Doll's House (1973), The Romantic Englishwoman (1975), Mr Klein (1976) and Don Giovanni (1979). (15)

Dalton, a former assistant director working on The Avengers (ABC, 1961-9) before he was asked to attend a meeting with the director in Knightsbridge, remembered Losey as a man lacking in humour, getting very annoyed when, on set, the crew used radios to try and follow the progress of the World Cup, regarding football as 'this homosexual game where they all hug each other.' He graduated from assistant on Secret Ceremony and The Go-Between to producer on A Doll's House, The Romantic Englishwoman and Losey's last film, Steaming (1985).

'I wanted to make a film about an accident in which there was no physical violence, only the inner violence of what people feel,' claimed Losey. (16) Accident fulfills that dictum and is a complex exploration of the relationships between three men and one woman conducted beneath a deceptively calm vision of domestic and working lives. Losey was intrigued by English reserve and captured something of the restraint and tension inherent in the battling passions of Stephen, Charley and William during one summer in the English countryside.
'Don't, you're standing on his face!' 
The film opens with a formal shot of the exterior of Stephen's country house. The camera begins to track in towards the house. What strikes you immediately is the use of sound - an aircraft overhead, screeching owls, dogs barking and the tapping of typewriter keys - to augment the thick, primordial atmosphere, where sound becomes another character in the film and signals, with the deafening sound of the car crash, the emotional wreckage from which the rest of the film spills out.

Losey's use of sound booms and telescopic rifle mikes adds sonic highlights to a film in which he plays with sensual memory, including the ticking engine of the crashed car, footsteps, farmyard noises, water trickling, children playing, kettles, busy offices, frying omelettes et al in the structuring of Stephen's memory. A fascinating aspect of Stephen's recall is how Losey manipulates the flashback to obscure certain moments, his embarrassment at falling into the river or his reluctance to play the mock-rugby game at Codrington Hall, for example. What's missing is just as important as what is evident.

Sound as a 'sonic flashback' is vital when the film narratively comes full circle and Losey returns to his formal shot of the house, tracks back and repeats the sound of the car crash just before the end titles. In a sense we are entering the present moment of the crash, then travelling back with Stephen into the past to understand what happened to the victims, how it occurred, having them return to its squalid aftermath and reemerge into the light of day by the time the film ends. As Colin Gardner notes: 'The film's structural, narrative, and most importantly, temporal role will be to piece them back together again through Stephen's present and mnemonic focalization.' (17)

Stephen's rush to the scene of the crash is supernaturally chilly. It's mise-en-scene is a mass of hand held camera shots following Stephen's circumnavigation of the wreck and his attempts to rescue Anna and William, including tracking shots across moonlit fields and brief intercuts to a black sky punctured by the moon and a horse woken by the disturbance. Death seems to the result of some animalistic force and as Colin Gardner observes Stephen is associated with harnessing 'the impulsive traits of becoming-animal' to break free of his neuroses about sexual inadequacy and impending old age.

Stephen's odyssey through the film, a descent into male anxiety superbly realised in the agonies etched on Dirk Bogarde's face and in his antagonism towards Stanley Baker as the sexual athlete Charley, is in the main concerned with the surface tension between each of the characters and how it is suddenly and irrevocably broken. It is a film where 'discontinuous time and memory are now depicted as mutually complicit with violently compulsive behaviour' and several sequences underline the melding of animal competition and sexual play between three men as these forces thrash away beneath the formal, civilised and privileged family life unfolding during the idyllic summer. (18)

For Stephen, his student William represents the glowing, golden flame of youth he wished he still possesed and his friend Charley is his rival in intellect, reputation, success and sexual power, the other qualities he desperately seeks as he sees his middle age rotting away at the core of his life. When he yells at the traumatised Anna, 'Don't, you're standing on his face!' he is at once acknowledging immolation of his own youth and her own role as femme fatale, as someone capable of injuring all the males who covet her in the story.

Narrative is also a pertinent subject for the film. The events leading up to the crash are effectively a narrative of memory, a feature length flashback to when Stephen first met Anna through his tutoring of William, but it also initially takes other forms: the typing at the beginning of the film suggests a construction being undertaken, the police interrogation after the crash as a false narrative because Stephen lies to cover up Anna's guilt as the drunk driver responsible for the crash.

When Stephen watches Anna's legs twitching, as she seems to recall the trauma of the crash in her own nightmare, Losey jump cuts to a what consists of an after and before shot of Michael York as William - in the present covered in blood behind a shattered windscreen and in the past preserved as bright eyed, glowing young man, as Stephen would want to remember him.

This jump back returns us to a discussion between Stephen and William, in the privileged vaults of Oxford, about Anna, an enigmatic Austrian 'princess', a woman in whom they both interested and one they are already engaging in mock competition over. With great irony, Stephen advises William, 'as her tutor her moral welfare must be my first consideration' which begs the question about his demeaning treatment of her in the film's climax, a release of his sexual frustration that's echoed through the rest of the film. His statement, 'I refuse to encourage or countenance male lust as directed against any of my women students,' is the shield behind which he hides his own increasing desire as his own biological clock begins to falter.

At the same time Losey's frame encompasses the open window of the room, looking down on the quad to Anna's arrival into the film, petting and stroking a goat incongruously sitting on the lawn. The goat may symbolise, as Tim Robey notes on the DVD, male lust being tamed by Anna but it could also suggest a loss of innocence and the scape goat representing the sins of the individual, or the projection, displacement of blame onto Anna for all the unwarranted male aggression, lust and frustration exuding from Stephen, William and Charley. Pointedly, William asks Stephen, 'You're not past it are you, already?' strongly suggesting the rest of the film will be Stephen's attempt to prove he isn't.

Anna is categorised simply as an Austrian 'princess' when Stephen reveals to his wife Rosalind (played by Pinter's own wife Vivien Merchant) the existence of his new pupil. It's the reductive naming of a woman who walks through the film like a ghost, empty of any kind of interior life, and whom the wise, ever watching, Rosalind gets the measure of straight away. 'Then she's a fake,' she claims when said 'princess' does not apparently have long golden hair. 'Has she made advances to you?' asks Rosalind, almost aware of her husband's impending crisis it seems. Again, the scene focuses on Stephen's age and Rosalind's comment 'you're not too old for me' highlights Stephen's interior struggle.
'All aristocrats were made to be... killed'
The dusty halls of academe, the hierarchies of English university education, are placed in direct contrast to Stephen's domestic life but both fizz with the undercurrent of unfocused desire. A shot of Rosalind, in close up, looking at Stephen with love, is cut to a shot of Anna, gazing absentmindedly off screen and away from Stephen.

That undercurrent is picked up in the tension between the dons sitting in the reading room and Charley's provocative recital from the paper about the analysis of libidinous students and the occupancy of a student's bed by a bus driver. At this juncture we may presume that Charley is suggesting he is involved with student Anna. The passage of time is again flagged up - the hermetically sealed world of donnish contemplation is tracked by the loud ticking of a clock. 

One of the film's key scenes, which shifts the burgeoning desires between these parties, is where Stephen and Anna are being punted down the river by William. It's a beautifully photographed sequence, full of images of male sexual prowess and female availability as William thrusts the punt along and Stephen surreptitiously drinks in Anna's body, his gaze fixed on her legs, navel and arms.

Johnny Dankworth's score is feverish, all febrile harps and sax, as Losey frames Stephen and Anna between William's legs and then focuses on his arms pushing the the pole into the water to suggest the young man is sexually dominant over both of his passengers. The swan, another animal image, evokes the fairy tale princess that Anna has been already been categorised as but it also may suggest energy burning away beneath the surface, of Stephen's mid-life swan-song, the swan as a symbol of seduction. The scene ends with Stephen's humiliating soaking in the river, his thoughts of seduction truly dampened.

Back in his study, the homosocial subtext in the film, which often threatens to become a homosexual one, is reiterated by William's admiration of Stephen's body and the suggestion of an exercise regime to keep him in trim. The sense of the temporal is indicated by Losey's skipping pan across the gargoyles on the outside of the building in time with a striking bell, dividing several scenes between the two men relaxing and drinking and adding one immediately after that features Anna.

In the first section Stephen invites William down for the weekend and he strikes a note of foreboding with his claim, 'All aristocrats were made to be... killed', when discussing William's blue blood. Stephen's own preservation of William in this flashback is acknowledged in William's response of, 'Of course, we're immortal.' This exchange about William's denial of his death is repeated later in the Eton wall-game played at William's ancestral home. The next section with Anna confirms what we suspect, she is already seeing Charley, when Stephen recommends one of his books to her. The rivalry between the two academics is apparent even here when Stephen rejects Charley's work as 'I don't think much of it, but you might.'

So we see Stephen already arranging several lives and setting them on a future course, almost as if two time zones are steadily being brought together, culminating in the crash. Interestingly, Losey matches two scenes where Stephen approaches Rosalind, sleeping in bed, with a similar approach to the traumatised Anna, seen at the beginning of the film and also anticipating the brutal conclusion to it later. Similarly, we see the crash site in bright sunshine as Stephen helps his son out of a tree, our recognition of it emphasised by Losey holding on the shot long after they have walked out of frame.

The sunny weekend in the country is a wonderful summation, in visual and performance terms, of the strategies and games that obsess Pinter, his fascination with the exchange of power. The tennis match is one such expression of this, of course, but Charley's disruption of the domestic scene is symbolised by the football he throws through the window as William fills a saucepan at the kitchen sink. The testosterone is literally flying.

The power play is also marvellously mapped out in the conversation in the garden when Losey frames the three male characters in one shot, William and Charley dominating the foreground and Stephen in the background, his back to them as he gardens. Here is another example of meta-narrative in the film as they all discuss a prospective novel which is uncannily a reflection of what is already playing out in the garden between the three men and as they assume their positions in relation to Anna, now playing with the children, and the pregnant Rosalind dozing in a sun lounger.

Here, Bogarde's own physical inadequacies, in contrast to the alpha male energy of Stanley Baker, is used to inform the power struggle, the 'sexual baiting' between Stephen and Charley. Losey noted Dirk as, 'a completely non-physical man. He can't ride a horse, he can't swim, he can barely walk. The only thing he can do is garden.' (19) Nicholas Mosley, on set when the tennis match was being filmed, also noted how none of the actors had any idea how to play tennis. The animalistic is figured again not only in Charley's overt manliness but also in the serendipitous moment when a tennis ball is chased by a black cat playing under the net.

What comes across in the match and other games is Charley's male dominance and cavalier breaking of the rules and its an echo of how he will casually use Stephen's house as a place to meet and sleep with Anna. William's own casual, sexual ease with Anna is also revived at the cricket match, then his and Stephen's masculinity and the disparities in their class are also tested in the brutal and violent rugby style Eton wall-game into which William drags Stephen. This marking out of territory, with the tennis match coldy observed by the wise Rosalind, suggests that Stephen's desires are 'deferred and disguised through a series of unconscious competitive games - a favourite Pinter strategy, as we saw in The Servant - so that Stephen appropriates Charley's and William's actual relationships with Anna to feed his own vicarious sexual appetite.' (20) This appetite remains stunted, even after a one night stand with his old flame Francesca, and is only fully sated in the aftermath of the crash.

That stunting of his libido is beautifully captured in the walk Stephen takes with Anna. As Colin Gardner rightly observes it is this moment where he fails to seize her which will haunt his recollections throughout the film. It's a gloriously shot exploration of the English countryside, suggesting nature at its most fecund. Anna's disregard for the power of nature is caught in her sweeping away of the spider's web, a visual metaphor surely for how she is a catalyst for the shattering of this web of relationships.

She leaves the web in her wake, its destruction signifying 'her dominance of the social milieu that the members of the group inhabit.' (21) Losey frames Anna and Stephen on either side of a gate with a beautiful field sweeping away before them. Stephen's hand almost reaches out for her but then the moment is gone, they leave the frame and Losey suggests this 'resonant space-as-place' provides a nostalgia for a time and place where Stephen still 'painfully rues his failure to make his sexual move.' (22) 

The evening dinner is also an expression of frustrated ambition and hilariously turns into a drunken challenge from Stephen to Charley over their prospective television careers. Stephen reveals that he has an appointment with Charley's producer after he pompously brags that the television execs wouldn't let Stephen 'within ten miles' of the medium.

Later, we see that meeting, a sly attack on the production mentality of the day, where Pinter himself plays a distracted producer, Bell, unable to talk to Stephen because the man he was supposed to be meeting, Bill Smith, has been hospitalised. The scene also has two functions - to remind Stephen of Francesca, 'the Provost's daughter, the daughter of the Provost' and to insert a temporal fugue between the dinner scene and the forthcoming kitchen scene when Stephen returns and finds he has been too inhibited in his approaches to Anna and discovers Charley has already claimed her.

The rekindling of his relationship with Francesca is a searing expression of the unhappiness at the heart of two supposedly happy lives. That both of them are entombed, empty vessels and are merely reenacting a moment out of the past is emphasised by the way the dialogue between the two characters is presented as an out of sync narration over a montage of Stephen meeting Francesca at her flat, taking her out to dinner and going to bed with her. As Losey noted of the encounter, it was 'a real lost night, which instead of relieving frustration, makes it worse' and the sequence is again another example of the selective possibilities of memory, of an edited inner monologue as a register of temporality in the film. (23)

Stephen returns to find Anna and Charley continuing their affair at his house. It again exposes the competition between Stephen and Charley over Anna and is expressed domestically too as Stephen, a vessel of barely contained rage and with his back to them, cooks an omelette. It is a charged performance from Bogarde, an intense expression of his own barely contained frustration with Baker and one which, according to his biographer John Coldstream, totally exhausted him. Yet, it is highly appropriate in articulating Stephen's own hostility to the relationship between Anna and Charley.

Charley's casual infidelity is also underlined by Baker reading out a confidential letter from his wife Laura, originally destined for Stephen, paralleling scenes where Stephen visits Laura and goes to see his own pregnant wife Rosalind who, out of all the characters, can see from a distance that Charley is a 'poor stupid old man'. However, she might also be saying the same about her own husband. All people are stupid, according to Rosalind.

After the cricket match and the brutal Eton wall-game, both expressive of jaded aristocracy and with the former match indicating that Anna has dumped Charley for the youthful but doomed William, the film returns to the aftermath of the crash, cutting from a tender kiss between Anna and Charley to the fractured images of the accident and Anna's nightmare in the bedroom. Stephen's distasteful rape of Anna devolves into a simple operation of erasure, with Stephen, appalled at himself, one presumes, for using his guilt and remorse over William's death as an opportunity to indulge his sexual frustrations, desperate to remove her from the situation, from everyone's lives. At the same time, his conscience arrives in the form of a constantly ringing telephone bearing a message that his wife has given birth.

He takes Anna back into Oxford, helping her over a quad wall so that no one will see her, and she packs and leaves. This dangerous game is over and silence cloaks Anna's involvement in the car crash, her complicity with Stephen's cover up of her drunk driving. This world of deceptions and lies, the brokering of power, manipulate Anna as 'a victim and a participant at the same time, the kind of moral (or amoral) multivalency that infuriates those who wish for clear-cut solutions to the vicissitudes of existence.' (24) The disordered narrative cycles around again, the film closing with the shot of Stephen's house in bright sunshine, the camera tracking back from the scene of the crime as the sound of a car crash can be heard on the soundtrack, an indication that lies, aimlessness, pain and disappointment are never ending in this privileged little world.

(1) John Coldstream, Dirk Bogarde - The Authorised Biography
(2) David Caute, Joseph Losey - A Revenge on Life
(3) John Coldstream, Dirk Bogarde - The Authorised Biography
(4) David Caute, Joseph Losey - A Revenge on Life
(5) Ibid
(6) Colin Gardner, British Film Directors - Joseph Losey
(7) David Caute, Joseph Losey - A Revenge on Life
(8) John Coldstream, Dirk Bogarde - The Authorised Biography
(9) David Caute, Joseph Losey - A Revenge on Life
(10) John Coldstream, Dirk Bogarde - The Authorised Biography
(11) Ibid
(12) David Caute, Joseph Losey - A Revenge on Life
(13) Ibid
(14) Wheeler Winston Dixon in The Films of Harold Pinter
(15) David Caute, Joseph Losey - A Revenge on Life
(16) Colin Gardner, British Film Directors - Joseph Losey
(17) Ibid
(18) Ibid
(19) John Coldstream, Dirk Bogarde - The Authorised Biography
(20) Colin Gardner, British Film Directors - Joseph Losey
(21) Wheeler Winston Dixon in The Films of Harold Pinter
(22) Colin Gardner, British Film Directors - Joseph Losey
(23) Wheeler Winston Dixon in The Films of Harold Pinter
(24) Ibid

About the transfer
Gerry Fisher's desaturated Eastman colour photography is the highlight of this restored high definition transfer. His colour-as-monochrome scheme is very prominent and the detail is crisp and clean, picking up splendid flesh tones, lines and creases on faces, texture in clothing and objects. Contrast is deep and layered and the transfer copes well with many dark and shadowy scenes, particularly those shot in bright sun such as the punting scene. There is good sense of depth, the appropriate film grain texture is preserved and the image is damage free. A pleasure to behold. The soundtrack is crisp, dialogue is faithfully produced as is Dankworth's sinuous music score. No issues to report.

Special features
Talking About Accident (33:18)
A French documentary from 2005 including an interview with Pinter, critic Michel Ciment, cinematographer Gerry Fisher and using archive audio clips of Losey and covering their intense collaboration and the process of shooting the film. While Pinter explains his love for Hartley's The Go Between and Proust's À la recherche du temps perdu he felt that although he didn't love the original books of The Servant and Accident he saw them both as an attractive challenge to adapt for cinema. Ciment sees Accident as a film 'built on empty moments' and as complimentary to many of the landmarks films of European cinema in their interior exploration of the psyche. Cinematographer Gerry Fisher recalls his promotion from operator to director of photographer in agreeing to work with Losey and then being sent the script of Accident, Losey and Ciment comment on the casting of Bogarde and Baker where their physical differences were represented in the two characters in the film and Seyrig's presence as a sub-homage to Resnais. Losey and Fisher also talk about the 'shooting in one' aspect of the film, of the desire to shoot in monochrome rather than colour, of Bogarde's discomfort at Baker's presence transformed into performance. A fascinating insight into the tensions and contrasts at the heart of the film.
Joseph Losey and Harold Pinter Discuss Accident (25:36)
A very welcome archive piece called 'Screenwriting' from the CBS television series Camera Three, transmitted 28 May 1967, where Losey and Pinter are interviewed about their collaboration on The Servant and Accident just prior to the release of the latter in America. Scenes from the two films are shown and they each discuss the style, discipline and themes of their work.
John Coldstream on Dirk Bogarde (6:19)
Bogarde's biographer briefly provides a background to Bogarde's involvement in Accident, the selection of the Mosley novel as a fitting project for Losey, Pinter and Bogarde to collaborate on, his playing of Stephen with 'enormous intelligence and understanding' against the immense physicality of Baker.
Harry Burton on Harold Pinter (10:42)
Burton, the director of Channel 4's excellent documentary 'Working with Pinter', presents another fascinating insight into Pinter's psyche and his development as a writer. This takes us from his early plays and successes to his work in cinema, television and radio. He mentions how Pinter's own affair at the time may well have informed the tense trysts depicted in Accident, discusses the submerged world that Pinter was so keen on revealing in films like Accident and his work as an actor on the film. Burton really should have been asked to do a commentary as he displays an intimate understanding of Pinter's themes and obsessions.
Interview with Melanie Williams (9:36)
Lecturer in Film Studies at East Anglia University, Dr Melanie Williams approaches Losey's work from a rarely discussed and equally intriguing angle: the role of women in his films. She contrasts the femme fatales of The Sleeping Tiger and Eve with the object of desire, Anna, in Accident. An 'enigmatic, empty character', Williams sees her as a 'beautiful cypher' who doesn't really live up to Losey's idea of her as an active catalyst. She also examines the characters of Rosalind and Francesca. Rosalind is very much the exclusive domesticated woman who offers something of a Greek chorus on the action. Francesca, the old flame, suggests the role of career woman in the world of Accident, 'untouched by feminism', is one that is alienated and empty too. A fascinating dissection from Williams, especially her reading of Stephen's assault on Anna and the marginality of women in the film.
Interview with Tim Robey (8:40)
Robey, critic at the Daily Telegraph, looks at Losey's objective examination of class. Both he and Pinter are seen as outsider figures able to comment on privilege, class hierarchy and sexuality. He also touches on the character of Anna, as an enigmatic catalyst for all the events in the film, as an object passed between the male characters, and Losey's exploitation of the tension between Bogarde and Baker. He also underlines the male competitiveness at the heart of the film and Losey's experimental approach to the film's construction.
Trailer (3:13)
The UK trailer, narrated by Bogarde. Love the tense pause in between 'And Charley, my closest friend... I suppose' as Stanley Baker appears on the screen.

Royal Avenue Chelsea - London Independent Producers 1967
StudioCanal Blu Ray / Released 8 April 2013 / OPTBD2479 / Cert PG / 110 minutes / Colour
BD Specs: Region B / Feature Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1 / Feature Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 / Video Codec: MPEG-4 AVC / BD50 / 1080P / English Language / English subs

One Response to “BRITISH CULT CLASSICS: Accident - Fully Restored Edition / Blu-Ray Review”
  1. Appreciate your kind words about my contribution to the ACCIDENT re-issue. HB

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