Joseph Walton Losey (January 14, 1909, La Crosse, Wisconsin – June 22, 1984, 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's life.
In the 1950s Losey was blacklisted in the United States and moved to Europe where he made the remainder of his films, mostly in the United Kingdom.
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 began working with playwright Harold Pinter, the collaboration beginning what would be a long friendship and a successful career for Pinter as a screenwriter. Losey realized three films from Pinter's screenplays, The Servant (1963), Accident (1967) and The Go-Between (1971), all of which have made a mark in the traditions of British, European, and American art house cinema. The Servant won three British Academy awards. Accident won the Grand Prix Spécial du Jury award at the 1967 Cannes Film Festival. And The Go-Between won, among others, the Golden Palm Award at the 1971 Cannes Film Festival, four prizes at the 1972 BAFTA awards, and 'Best British Screenplay' at the 1972 Writers' Guild of Great Britain awards. Each of the Pinter-Losey films examines the politics of sexuality, gender, and class in 1960s and 70s Britain. In The Servant, a manservant named Hugo Barrett (Dirk Bogarde) facilitates the moral and psychological degradation of a member of the nouveau riche named Tony (James Fox); Accident explores male lust, hypocrisy, and ennui amongst the educated middle class as two Oxford tutors named Stephen (Bogarde) and Charley (Stanley Baker) competitively objectify a pupil named Anna (Jacqueline Sassard) against the backdrop of their seemingly idyllic lives. In The Go-Between, a young working class boy named Leo Colston (Dominic Guard) is involved in both facilitating and undermining a socially transgressive affair between an upper class woman named Marian Maudsley (Julie Christie) and a working class farmer named Ted Burgess (Alan Bates).
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