The Go-Between (1971)

A schoolboy learns the sexual and social rules of the game at the dawn of the 20th century in Joseph Losey’s Palme d’Or-winner.

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Film details


“You can feel the clothes, you can smell the heat; and because all these sensual details are so physically realised, you end up hearing the unsaid, seeing the unseen.”
Richard Roud, Sight & Sound, 1971

Young Leo (Dominic Guard) is at boarding school with Marcus, but lower down the social scale. Spending the summer of 1900 at his friend’s imposing Norfolk estate, he becomes embroiled in a forbidden romance between Marcus’s sister (Julie Christie) and a tenant farmer (Alan Bates). No director has better captured an English summer than Wisconsin-born Joseph Losey in this adaptation of LP Hartley’s novel.

Harold Pinter initially felt that the book was “too painful, too perfect” to adapt. However his screenplay adds a typically elliptical note, with flash-forwards to a figure who turns out to be the adult Leo (Michael Redgrave), marked for life by his experiences.

This was Pinter’s third script for Losey following The Servant (1963) and Accident (1967). A fourth, never realised, was later published as The Proust Screenplay.

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