The social metaphors may be a little worn nowadays, but Joseph Losey's film has lost none of its drama and intensity.
Dirk Bogarde stars as the butler who responds to rather foppish architect James Fox's advertisement to find a servant. Enter Sarah Miles, and a complicated love triangle ensues. Order eventually descends into chaos as servant-master roles become blurred in this riveting allegory of social disintegration.
It is the sheer brilliance of the ensemble here that makes this film a true classic: Much of the credit must go to the skillful black-and-white photography of Douglas Slocombe, one of the most talented British cinematographers of all time. Stylistically, this is quintessential sixties British realism. Also noteworthy are John Dankworth's jazz-oriented score and Harold Pinter's screenplay. It cannot be denied, however, that the film stands or falls on the strength of the performances, and the cast here are on top form, especially Bogarde in perhaps his finest role.