Joseph Losey

Joseph Losey

Joseph Losey (January 14, 1909 in La Crosse, WisconsinJune 22, 1984 in London) was an American theater and film director. After studying in Germany with Bertolt Brecht, Losey returned to the United States, eventually making his way to Hollywood.

While in Hollywood, Losey co-directed the original U.S. production of "Galileo," by Brecht, with Brecht himself as the other co-director. Charles Laughton, who had worked with Brecht on the translation / adaptation, performed the lead role. In the context of that production, Losey also made a half hour film based on Galileo.


During the McCarthy Era, Losey was investigated for his supposed ties with the Communist Party and was blacklisted by the Hollywood movie studio bosses. His career in shambles, he moved to London, where he continued working as a director.

Even in the UK, he experienced problems: his first British film, "The Sleeping Tiger", a 1954 film noir crime thriller, bore the pseudonym Victor Hanbury, rather than his own name, in the credits as director, as the stars of the film, Alexis Smith and Alexander Knox, feared being blacklisted in Hollywood due to working on a film he directed. He was also originally slated to direct the 1956 Hammer Films production "X the Unknown"; however, after a few days work on the project, star Dean Jagger refused to work with a supposed Communist sympathiser and Losey was moved off the project.

Collaboration with Harold Pinter

In the 1960s Losey entered a productive partnership with dramatist and screenwriter, Harold Pinter. The two collaborated on three films together: "The Servant" (1963), "Accident" (1967) and "The Go-Between" (1970). All three were highly acclaimed and were nominated for prestigious awards. "The Go-Between" won the Golden Palm Award at the 1971 Cannes Film Festival. Pinter also wrote an adaptation of Proust for Losey, but the money was never found to film this.

Each of the films examined aspects of the British class system in their reflection of the master-servant relationship (as in "The Servant") and the illicit affair between the Julie Christie (upper class) and Alan Bates (lower middle class) characters in "The Go-Between", while, in "Accident", the world of Oxford dons and their extra marital relationships exposes degrees of hypocrisy amongst the education middle class.

Pinter's ability to pare down the levels of meaning in his dialogue, reducing much of the chacters' lines to what appears to be surface mundane chit-chat, all of which is amplified and expanded upon by Losey's images to create an element of ambiguity, are part of the success of these films of that era.

Later career

In 1975, Losey realized a long-planned adaptation of "Galileo (aka Life of Galileo)" by Brecht. "Galileo" was produced for television and financed in part by the American Film Theatre, though it was shot in England.In 1979 Losey directed a film of Mozart's opera "Don Giovanni", shot in Villa La Rotonda and the Veneto region of Italy: this film was nominated for several César Awards in 1980 including Best Director.

Private life

Losey married three times. From 1956 to 1963 he was married to British actress Dorothy Bromiley; they had a son, Joshua Losey, an actor. He had a son, Gavrik Losey, with the fashion designer/author Elizabeth Hawes. Gavrik helped out with the production on some of his father's films. Losey then married Patricia, who adapted Lorenzo Da Ponte's libretto for "Don Giovanni", and Nell Dunn's play "Steaming". They remained married until his death.

Filmography as director

* "Pete Roleum and His Cousins" (1939)
* "Youth Gets a Break" (1941)
* "A Child Went Forth" (1941)
* "A Gun in His Hand" (1945)
* "Leben des Galilei" (1947)
* "The Boy with Green Hair" (1948)
* "The Lawless" (1950)
* "The Prowler" (1951)
* "M" (1951)
* "The Big Night" (1951)
* "Imbarco a mezzanotte" (1951)
* "The Sleeping Tiger" (1954)
* "A Man on the Beach" (1955)
* "The Intimate Stranger" (1956)
* "Time Without Pity" (1957)
* "The Gypsy and the Gentleman" (1958)
* "Blind Date" (1959)
* "First on the Road" (1959)
* "The Criminal" (1960)
* " Eva" (1962)
* "The Damned" (1963)
* "The Servant" (1963)
* "King & Country" (1964)
* "Modesty Blaise" (1966)
* "Accident" (1967)
* "Secret Ceremony" (1968)
* "Boom!" (1968)
* "Figures in a Landscape" (1970)
* "The Go-Between" (1970)
* "The Assassination of Trotsky" (1972)
* "A Doll's House" (1973)
* "The Romantic Englishwoman" (1975)
* "Galileo" (1975)
* "Monsieur Klein" (1976)
* "Les Routes du sud" (1978)
* "Don Giovanni" (1979)
* "La Truite" (1982)
* "Steaming" (1985)


* Michel Ciment, "Le Livre de Losey. Entretiens avec le cinéaste", Paris, Stock/Cinéma, 1979, 465 p.
* Michel Ciment, "Joseph Losey: l'oeil du Maître", Institut Lumière/Actes Sud, 1994, 360 p.
* Penelope Houston, "Losey's Paper Handkerchief", "Sight and Sound", Summer 1966, pp. 142–143.
* Gilles Jacob, "Joseph Losey, or The Camera Calls", "Sight and Sound", Spring 1966, pp. 62–67.

External links

* [ Senses of Cinema: Great Directors Critical Database]
* [ Joseph Losey]
*Screenonline name|id=451136|name=Joseph Losey

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