On their various travels, usually to film locations, Dirk and Anthony Forwood took with them their 16mm Bell & Howell camera. For some ten years they kept this unique, personal record. Part of the footage was used in the 2001 BBC ‘Arena’ film, The Private Dirk Bogarde, directed by Adam Low and narrated by Nicholas Shakespeare.
The score for each film has been chosen from Dirk’s choices on Desert Island Discs.
In 1961 Dirk arrived at a turning-point in his career when he played the blackmailed homosexual barrister Melville Farr in the film Victim. By taking on the role, and deliberately shedding his matinée-idol image, he was considered at the time to be risking both box office poison and professional suicide. Victim marked not only Dirk’s new independence from Rank and the studio contract system, but also his transition to the New Wave in British film. Moreover it contributed towards an historic change in the law governing homosexuality (see – The Discreet Reformer). To coincide with the film’s release Dirk gave this fascinating interview.
“I’m still in the shell, and you haven’t cracked it yet, honey!” This mildly bitchy taunt was tossed at Russell Harty by Dirk Bogarde during a televised spat in 1986. It goes to the heart of the man. The words illuminate the actor and writer’s lifelong habit of disguise and its unconscious flip side, self-revelation. Bogarde spent his life playing a complex game of camouflage – with his public, with his friends and even with himself. But in doing so, he unwittingly exposed far more about himself than he could ever have wanted.
Words by Robin Dashwood – article can be found here.
To commemorate the 10th anniversary of Dirk’s death, the Estate commissioned a short biographical film. Scored to Mahler’s Adagietto from the Fifth Symphony, famously used in Death in Venice.
As part of BFI Southbank’s Dirk Bogarde season, a screening of Victim (1961) was followed by a panel discussion including author John Coldstream (Dirk Bogarde: The Authorised Biography), and Bogarde’s co-stars Sylvia Syms and and Peter McEnery, hosted by the BFI’s Brian Robinson. With candour and humour they converse about the Basil Dearden film that was so daring and controversial for its time. As the first film in the English language to use the word homosexual, it was awarded with an X certificate, which made it inaccessible to anyone under 16.