Find your movie at

Thoughts about and by Bogarde



"Dirk Bogarde's astonishing performance in Visconti's Death in Venice confirmed that he is a screen actor of great subtlety. His reign as an idol of teenage girls (top of the British box office in 1955 and 1957) was more puzzling at least to Bogarde himself. But Bogarde had the same attraction that many of today's pop-stars have.... The slight build, the sensual mouth, the delicately raised left eyebrow, the sensitive, rather anguished face, was neither wholly masculine or feminine. The was a hint of delicious cruelty (he's marvelous at playing villains) and at the same time motherable softness." (Heartthrobs by Jack Tresidder)

"The Films starring Dirk Bogarde are an index to the changing iconography and attitudes toward men in the British Cinema...Bogarde's image can be read as a series of attempts to find a new way of representing male sexuality...Bogarde seems always unhappy with the existing norms of masculinity. Where they embody restraint, he strives for excess. Where they remain calm in a crisis, he goes to pieces."

"There is a notable shift in the group of actors who assume leading roles in the British cinema of these decades (1950's)... Bogarde and Mason are noted for their erotic cruelty, nervousness, and defiance of existing norms. Their roles testify to society's increasing concern with the loss of paternal authority and domestic harmony, the presence of generational and class conflict,and, above all, discontent with existing patterns of sexual behavior."

"On the other hand, Dirk Bogarde, who was to attain stardom after this film (The Blue Lamp), introduced a male image that was to become increasingly popular and particularly associated with his own film persona for two decades: the neurotic and sexually threatening young male. "

"A Dirk Bogarde picture is rarely a guarantee of a work of art, yet it has come to promise, certainly of late, a film of definite morbid interest...(Singer not the Song) is a strangely compelling film. This is mainly due to Bogarde himself, intelligent, quietly sardonic, his restraint verging on the hieratic, his hints of inner angoisse...his wardrobe (60 per cent black leather) a fetishist's dream."

" Cavani (director of the Night Porter)...incorporates sexual psychology into a rhapsodic view of human obsession tending towards mysticism...the contract of love entered upon by Bogarde and Rampling---psychotic, born of weakness rather than strength--is a contract of death. It awaits only their reunion to be completed...But, in the very midst of depravity, there is ecstasy and tenderness and the selflessness that is also found in 'normal' love." (from Feminist Film Theory).

"Arguably, Bogarde had a lot more opportunities for quality work in London, were the costs of filmmaking were lower and the barrier for risk higher. Also, his rather feline and even androgynous persona might have stuck in studio bosses' collective craw the way Burton's more "butch", hard-drinking one did not, though it's worth noting that Bogarde's personal qualities actually lent themselves well to his occasional crack at the strong, silent type (as in High, Bright Sun), although it was more of a strength of character than of Stanley Baker-type machismo. One of the 'designs' of Accident was to oppose the more contained, even concealed, force of Bogarde against the blustery and unsubtle stratagems of the Baker prototype: A leopard vs. a grizzly bear." (commentary by D. McKee)

"...what really matters is willingness to live (indeed, thrive) onscreen in roles that demanded sexual ambiguity and/or hysterical emotion, even weakness--though Bogarde's whipcrack screen presence made those weaknesses fascinating (which, of course, is what good acting is supposed to do). Interestingly, much of Bogarde's matinee-idol status in Britain stemmed from these very qualities, and there's an unquestionable fascination in seeing a Major Movie Star tell his female lead (as in Singer . . .) that he knows "what it's like to love a man you can't have", let alone to immerse himself in something like Death in Venice. Even in fairly conventional studio fare, Bogarde was able to bring out various kinds of danger that sparked up his onscreen relationships." (commentary by D. McKee)


"The camera excited me by its apparent awareness of anything which I wished to impart to an audience mentally; it was my friend never my enemy, for some unexplained reason; there was a rapport between us which exhilarated me." (from Snakes and Ladders by Dirk Bogarde).

"I could now be given a Country Background; rolling fields, sunsets, a man of the earth, brooding solitude in the sombre plough of the Home Counties. A kind of anaemic Heathcliff...." (from Snakes and Ladders by Dirk Bogarde).

"I suppose the greatest exit which we are called upon to make or which is wished upon us, is our birth; that clumsy, uncomfortable, messy, bewildering affair which brings us often breathless into the long corridor of life leading directly, sometimes indirectly, but always inevitably, to our final supreme Exit, death." (from Snakes and Ladders by Dirk Bogarde).

"Isolation, even from choice as in my case, incubates self-centredness like a culture...Living in a tower, however secure it may feel, is hardly a social attribute...It was said of me recently that I suffered from an Obsessional Privacy. I can only suppose it must be true." (from A Postillion Struck by Lightening by Dirk Bogarde).

"Walking. or perhaps I should say strutting, through the empty huts and my fine black-and-silver uniform and high-peaked cap with its Death's Head insignia and cracking my boots with a thin silver-topped whip, I had no illusions at all that I was not the man I was supposed to be playing. I felt exactly right. I felt frightening; powerful; commanding." (from An Orderly Man by Dirk Bogarde).

"I was sent off to Spain to play a Mexican bandit sheathed in black leather, riding a white horse, carrying a white cat, and belting everyone in sight with a silver-topped riding crop." (from Snakes and Ladders by Dirk Bogarde).

"I don't lose my temper often; about once every twenty years perhaps. But when I do, I am informed, it is a pretty spectacular business, not because I shout and rail or wave my arms about but because I am deadly cool, brutally accurate, and the hundred minor, or major, faults which I have noticed about my victims overs the years are suddenly, vividly, and with appalled dismay on their part, laid before their eyes...So, naturally, I am careful not to do it very often, and spend months, even years as I have said, holding firm. Storing up my bits of shrapnel. Not a very attractive part of my make-up, I agree." (from An Orderly Man by Dirk Bogarde).

"I simply hated being a Film Star. For about ten years I was never able to be free. Couldn't walk in a street, had mounted police at Stage Doors, hysterical women hiding in my wardrobes at theatres, one who wandered mournfully about the gardens at night wailing my name and who was in constant danger of being found floating face downwards in the lily pools until I let the dogs loose...had my flies ripped so often that eventually, in public, I had to have a side zip...can you imagine anything more humiliating than that? Anyway, apart from all that, I have an absolute horror of being 'looked at'. An eye phobia or something. So I'm in quite the wrong profession obviously." (from A Particular Friendship by Dirk Bogarde)


"Your idea of fidelity is not having more than one man in the bed at the same time."
....from Darling.

"Get out of the way, I'll show you what I am. I'm a gentleman's gentleman, and you're no bloody gentleman!"
....from The Servant.

"God understands everything, and God forgives everything. So we can all do as we please." ....from The Singer not the Song.

"Sane...insane...who's to judge?"
.....from The Night Porter

"When in doubt attempt a little style--suprise them, keep them off balance. Establish your unpredictability."
....from Providence

"I suffer, but I never complain."
....from Despair

"Take your hands off me you mutinous filth!"

...from Damn the Defiant

Back to Home Page / Character Analysis / Bogarde's Films in Review / Biography