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GO-BETWEEN, THE (director: Joseph Losey; screenwriters: Harold Pinter/based on the novel “The Go-Between” by L.P. Hartley; cinematographer: Gerry Fisher; editor: Reginald Beck; music: Michel Legrand; cast: Julie Christie (Marian – Lady Trimingham), Alan Bates (Ted Burgess), Margaret Leighton (Mrs. Maudsley), Michael Redgrave (Leo Colston), Dominic Guard (‘Leo’ Colston), Michael Gough (Mr. Maudsley), Edward Fox (Hugh Trimingham), Richard Gibson (Marcus Maudsley), Simon Hume-Kendall (Denys), Roger Lloyd Pack (Charles), Amaryllis Garnet (Kate); Runtime: 118; MPAA Rating: PG; producers: Denis Johnson/John Heyman; Warner Home Video; 1970-UK)

“Sticks daggers into the polite but uptight English class system.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Self-exiled American filmmaker Joseph Losey (“Secret Ceremony”/”The Damned”/”The Trout”)adaptsto filmLP Hartley’s 1953 semi-autobiographical novel, that’s written by Harold Pinter. This is the third collaboration between Losey and playwright Harold Pinter, following The Servant (1963) and Accident (1967). It works well as an elegantly filmed mood piece, memory drama and coming-of-age tale, one that sticks daggers into the polite but uptight English class system.The pic is viewed through the eyes of the 13-year-old Leo Colston (Dominic Guard), the son of a refined but poor widow, whose boarding school classmate Marcus Maudsley (Richard Gibson) invites him to spend his summer holiday as the guest of his wealthy aristocratic family (Michael Gough & Margaret Leighton) at their Norfork country estate–Brandham Hall. The film’s framework is built around the middle-aged bachelor Leo (Michael Redgrave) visiting Norfolk and recalling that poignant summer adolescence experience of fifty years ago at Norfork while chatting with Lady Marian Trimingham (Julie Christie), who was in her twenties at the time when she befriended him and has since married the aristocrat she was betroth to at the time. Lady Marian tells her guest that her lower-class lover that summer was the father of her son and asks Leo to deliver one last message to her estranged grand-son, who looks like him.

At the turn of the 20th centuryMarian Maudsley (Julie Christie), Marcus’s attractive older sister, is engaged to Lord Hugh Trimingham (Edward Fox), but is carrying on an affair with her athletic neighbor tenant farmer Ted Burgess (Alan Bates). The chipper Leo, who has a schoolboy crush on Marian, is recruited by the lovers to become their messenger and does so with glee all that summer by becoming their private postman.When the innocent lad discovers the couple’s deception and the part he played in their assignations, what he took for a childish game now challenges his moral code and he sulks trying to imagine what he has done.

The costume period film is lushly photographed by Gerry Fisher and does a good job encapsulating the nuances and mores of that period. The screenplay by Pinter is intelligent, the acting is uniformly intelligent and the film is effortlessly charming and fascinating.

It won at the 1971 Cannes Film Festival the Palm D’Or.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”