More English than the Brits' proclaims one of the chapter headings in Michel Ciment's seminal series of interviews with Joseph Losey. Losey's life embraces a major crisis in political commitment and public tolerance (the blacklist); his career, his oeuvre, spans the most fundamental cultural confrontation of the century, between Marxism and Modernism, between progressive "realism" and the avant-garde subversion of optimism. Losey began his directorial career in the leftist political theatre of the 1930s. For Losey, as for many leftists of the period, Communism meant allegiance to the Soviet ideological model, and by extension, to Stalin's policies. The 1950s proved to be a difficult decade for Joseph Losey, a period marked by prolonged exile, the ever-lengthening reach of the blacklist and the constant fear of betrayal. The Sleeping Tiger, The Intimate Stranger and A Man on the Beach were made during his period of exile in the 1950s. There was an experimental, writer-oriented focus in Joseph Losey's later work, opening the way for collaborations on a more equal footing. Losey collaborated three films with Harold Pinter: The Servant, Accident and The Go-Between. His involvement in Secret Ceremony, Boom! and Figures in a Landscape was a case of blatant economic necessity. Most of his work directly explores and addresses the ideological interpellation of women by analysing the cultural assumptions that both construct and perpetuate it. Losey officially became a tax exile after relocating himself from Chelsea to Paris because of tax problems.
History can be borne only by strong personalities,
weak ones are utterly extinguished by it. (Friedrich Nietzsche) 1
‘More English than the
Brits’ proclaims one of the chapter headings in Michel Ciment’s
seminal series of interviews with JosephLosey. It’s probably a truism
to say that all of us were taken aback
ensured that, ‘for the
first time a city exists on the screen. It’s this expansion of the
action in the world which allows us to call JosephLosey a cosmic
While often insightful, this initial reductive approach to
Losey’s oeuvre has tended to unfairly colour the reception and
analysis of his subsequent British filmic legacy because it reduces the
director to a baroque visual stylist rather
A Doll’s House (1973), The Romantic Englishwoman (1975) and Steaming (1985)
gender, is woman’s only viable way out of Losey’s occupied
Patricia Losey, ‘Afterword’ to Ciment,
Conversations with Losey , p. 386.
Cited in Caute, JosephLosey , p. 301. For
Fonda and Seyrig’s version of events, see ibid ., pp.
The Servant (1963), Accident (1967) and The Go-Between (1971)
Norton’, in Four
Quartets (San Diego, New York and London, Harcourt Brace, 1971 ), p. 13.
Hirsch, JosephLosey , p. 88.
Durgnat, A Mirror for England , p. 255.
Palmer and Riley, The Films of JosephLosey ,
class and the politics of impulse in Time Without Pity (1957), The Gypsy and the Gentleman (1957), Blind Date (1959) and The Criminal (1960)
dandy.’ Cited in Caute, JosephLosey , p. 466.
Andrew Spicer, ‘Male Stars, Masculinity and
British Cinema, 1945–1960’, in Robert Murphy, ed., The
British Cinema Book (London, BFI, 1997 ), p.
This group of critics was centred on Paris’s
MacMahon cinema near
Brecht understood that living is
‘becoming’. (JosephLosey) 1
For verily, my brothers, the spirit is a stomach.
(Friedrich Nietzsche) 2
In 1960 Losey published ‘The
Individual Eye’, an autobiographical document in which he acknowledged
Bertolt Brecht’s crucial impor tance to his
The Sleeping Tiger (1954), A Man on the Beach (1955) and The Intimate Stranger (1956)
Losey, in Gordon Gow, ‘Weapons: JosephLosey
in an Interview with Gordon Gow’, Films and Filming , Vol.
18, No. 1, October 1971 , p. 39.
Caute, JosephLosey , pp. 114–15.
Losey, in Roud, ‘The Reluctant Exile’,