After several shorts for the North American public administration and the Rockefeller Foundation, Losey debuted in the field of fiction with this short animated using puppets to explain the use and importance of petroleum. It was presented at New York World’s Fair in 1939.
A 20-minute short made under the auspices of the Rockefeller Foundation for the National Youth Administration. The film documents the programme of job placements for the young up-and-coming from poor backgrounds run by the North American public administration.
18-minuted short produced by the National Association of Nursery Educators. Narrates the events of a day at summer camp for children, a place at the cutting edge of modern nursery education. Narrated by Lloyd Gough, an actor who later suffered reprisals at the hands of the witch hunt.
A police academy instructor tells cadets the tale of an officer who started hobnobbing with the mafia. Losey’s first approximation to the genre of police drama. The film belongs to Crime Does Not Pay, a series of shorts produced by Metro Goldwyn Mayer in the 30s and 40s.
Joseph Losey’s first feature was a fantastic tale addressing interesting social and political issues. Peter Fry, a boy who lost his parents in the war, leads a normal life in a quiet American town, until one day something incredible happens to him: his hair turns green. Will those around him be able to accept someone different to themselves? A parable in full swing of the witch hunt whose message remains every bit as pertinent today.
Losey was ahead of his time with this drama which, in noir mode, lashes out at latent racism towards migrants of Hispanic origin in the United States. A journalist has left the big city to lead a quiet life in a small American town; but he soon finds himself in the eye of the storm on defending the plight of a Mexican fruit picker.
Losey’s first incursion to film noir, with a movie written by the legendary screenwriter Dalton Trumbo. As dictated by the rules of the genre, this is a murky tale of obsessive love and crimes: police officer Webb Garwood starts an illicit affair with a married woman who reports a prowler in the vicinity of her home. Now he only has to get rid of her bothersome husband. Webb soon comes up with a sinister plan to commit the perfect crime.
Twenty years after Fritz Lang directed his masterpiece M (1931), Losey tackled a remake of this horrific tale about the hunt for a child killer, partly based on true facts. Here, the German serial killer Hans Beckert becomes the American Martin Harrow and the action shifts from Berlin to Los Angeles, the city whose most sinister side Losey is so skilled at extricating. One of the director’s most forgotten works and one most deserving another look.
Georgie, a boy battling with the myriad anxieties thrown at him by his imminent adulthood, sees his father being beaten by a sports journalist. Thirsty for revenge, he sets out on a journey through the city nightlife only to discover terrible family secrets. Headed by a teen star of fleeting fame, John Drew Barrymore, this is a coming-of-age story with thriller touches.
Using the pseudonym Andrea Forzano, Losey filmed this drama headlining former gangster-movie star Paul Muni. Here, Muni plays a tramp on the run from the cops for having accidentally killed a man and whose path crosses that of a young boy forced to steal. Losey uses the relationship between the two men to build another tale around one of his recurring subjects: the persecuted.
After his exile from the United States, Losey made his debut in British cinema alongside Dirk Bogarde, later to become one of his actors fetiche. Bogarde plays a thug who attempts to rob a brilliant psychoanalyst, only to end up becoming the guinea pig in an experiment: to reform his delinquent tendencies. In this first British piece, signed as Victor Hanbury, Losey tested the strained atmospheres of human relations that would go on to earn him great fame only a few years later.
Under the name of Joseph Walton, Losey filmed another of his dark, paranoid dramas. The protagonist in this case is Reggie Wilson, an American movie editor trying to start a new life in London, but unable to escape from a dark past he didn’t even know existed: one day he starts receiving mysterious letters from a woman who claims to be his former lover; the thing is he can’t remember her.
Before becoming one of European cinema’s most reputed authors, Losey had to shoot a few films to make ends meet in which he’s not even credited. That’s the case of this modest reel on which he only worked on a few days of filming. Produced by Hammer studios, the horror and sci-fi movie specialists, this is a disaster fantasy about a mysterious radioactive creature capable of destroying the world.
A thug injured in a confrontation with his partner finds refuge in the home of a blind, alcoholic doctor, who somehow manages to conceal his blindness from the criminal. Short film made by Losey for Hammer Films and written by the company’s regular screenwriter, Jimmy Sangster.
Alec Graham is accused of a murder he says he didn’t commit and is given the death penalty. His father, David, an alcoholic who has done little for his son, is the only person who can get him off death row. But to do it he only has 24 hours to find the real killer. Police drama with an impeccable cast of British actors and excellent cinematography by Freddie Francis.
One of the most unusual and atypical films in Joseph Losey’s filmography is this unfettered period drama narrating the stormy relationship between an English aristocrat and a young gypsy girl determined to marry him for his fortune. Greek cinema’s leading star Melina Mercouri plays a female character whose subversive leverage was all of a novelty in the British films of the time.
Losey’s first collaboration with another of his favourite actors, Stanley Baker. Here criminal intrigue is the excuse for casting light on the darkest corners of the human psyche. A police inspector investigates the murder of a married woman. The main suspect is a young artist, the dead woman’s secret lover.
Losey’s only incursion to advertising is this spot for the British division of the Ford Motor Company, announcing its Ford Anglia model. Shot in 16mm and Technicolor, hugely fun and festive, it takes viewers through the car’s interior features and specifications
Losey’s second collaboration with Welsh actor Stanley Baker, in the role of Johnny Bannion, a thief who commits his last heist and hotfoots it with the booty. However, when he is arrested and sent to prison, too many people want to know where the money is. Indisputable masterpiece of British film noir.
Losey’s second collaboration with the Hammer Films horror studio resulted in this film turned cult movie. A strange combination of youth drama and sci-fi fantasy, it reflects on the violence of contemporary society a few years prior to Anthony Burgess’ novel A Clockwork Orange, while launching a pessimistic denunciation of the dangers of the arms race during the Cold War.
Venice is the setting for one of the stormiest love stories taken to the screen by Losey, based on a novel by James Hadley Chase. Stanley Baker plays an author whose comfortable, luxurious lifestyle is torn apart by Eve, a femme fatale who will be his ruin. The French movie star Jeanne Moreau collaborated for the first time with the director as a female character who acquires legendary overtones.
One of Losey’s masterpieces and the film that earned him international recognition after its premiere at the Venice Festival. With a screenplay by the playwright Harold Pinter and brilliant performances by Dirk Bogarde and James Fox, this claustrophobic drama about an aristocrat who hires a new butler turns an everyday space into a nest of tensions and fears, while making an accurate reflection on class differences and power relations.
During World War I, a British soldier (Tom Courtenay, one of the Free Cinema actors) accused of deserting is court-martialled. During the trial, the officer assigned as his counsel, embodied by Dirk Bogarde, examines the lack of humanity among a military rank with no qualms about mercilessly sacrificing human life. A powerful anti-war document up there with classics like All Quiet on the Western Front and Paths of Glory.
Secret agent Modesty Blaise, created by the British author Peter O’Donnell in 1963, was the female version of James Bond and an icon of pop culture in the 60s. Losey takes another look at the character, from a parodic and irreverent slant, giving her the face and body of Michelangelo Antonioni’s preferred actress, Monica Vitti. Accompanying her on the cast are the indispensable Dirk Bogarde as the two-bit villain, and one of British cinema’s young stars of the day, Terence Stamp.
Once again Losey re-joins old friends: Harold Pinter, Dirk Bogarde and Stanley Baker are his accomplices in one of the director’s most emblematic films, Special Jury Prizewinner at the Cannes Festival. A seemingly peaceful atmosphere in an English university turns into a somewhat more disturbing scenario when exposed to Losey’s camera-magnifying lens: power struggles, clandestine relationships, repressed desire and existential tedium.
One of the maddest enterprises undertaken by Losey, the unexpected coming together between his modest style and the excess and narcissism of his collaborators: the playwright Tennessee Williams, the most famous couple of married actors at the time, Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, and the ironic actor and author Noël Coward. The result is a strange piece of delirious aesthetics, a sad poem of love and death taking place under the deceptive and inclement Mediterranean sun.
Losey directs Elizabeth Taylor once again in another chamber piece driving three characters against one another to clash and unleash their pent-up repressions. Leonore meets Cenci, a mysterious young girl who reminds her of her daughter, deceased years back; for her part, Cenci sees in Leonore the mother she lost as a child. This is the starting point for an intense psychological drama co-starring Mia Farrow and Robert Mitchum.
The subject of persecution, so recurrent in Losey’s cinema, is taken to the nth degree of abstraction in this work. Two men flee through an inhospitable landscape plagued with dangers. A helicopter chases them incessantly, like a tenacious, tireless animal with no intention of giving up on its prey. It’s not clear who’s hunting them or why. A fascinating existential metaphor anticipating a good deal of today’s cinema, starring Robert Shaw (before Jaws) and Malcolm McDowell (before A Clockwork Orange).
Losey won the Golden Palm at the Cannes Festival thanks to this exquisite staging of L.P. Hartley’s book, adapted for cinema by the playwright Harold Pinter. Julie Christie and Alan Bates, two of British cinema’s most emblematic actors, star in this beautiful tale of a secret love where the period reconstruction is no hindrance to the sharp and always contemporary approach of its director. The music by Michel Legrand and photography of Gerry Fisher do the rest.
A cast uniting three of the big European stars of the time (Richard Burton, Alain Delon and Romy Schneider) is Losey’s greatest achievement for making this reconstruction of one of the most exciting and important episodes in 20th century history: Trotsky’s murder in Mexico by the Catalan Ramón Mercader.
Movie adaptation of one of Europe’s most important 19th century plays, Ibsen’s A Doll’s House. As the leading character of this classic and groundbreaking text in the field of defending women’s rights, Losey worked with Hollywood star Jane Fonda, who slipped perfectly into the role of the faithful wife who discovers the ability to impose herself on the stifling atmosphere around her.
Losey once again used the historical figure of Galileo Galilei to construct a reflection on intransigence towards those different to us and the repressive mechanisms of power. This adaptation of a text by Bertolt Brecht features a remarkable performance by the actor and singer Topol (Fiddler on the Roof) in the leading part.
The masks and fictions we use to give ourselves an identity and the way we relate to others always fascinated Losey, and this film written by playwright Tom Stoppard brings a new turn of the screw on the subject. An author with writer’s block struggles to produce a screenplay, while his wife starts a secret love affair with a young German claiming to be a poet. So begins a stealthy combat between the two in the purest tradition of Losey’s films.
If Losey was always fascinated by paranoid atmospheres and states, what better scenario could serve his purpose but France under Nazi occupation during World War II? This is the world of the rich and elegant art dealer Robert Klein, who has never cared about anyone other than himself. But this anguish-packed film of Kafkaesque overtones has place for the appearance of a second Robert Klein. And this one is of Jewish origin.
In full swing of the Spanish transition to democracy, Losey shot this film with a screenplay by Spain’s Jorge Semprún, focussing on the uncertainty and confusion of anti-Franco exiles following the dictator’s death. A reflection on the indelible wounds left by fascism, starring one of French cinema’s greatest actors, Yves Montand. A prolongation of Alain Resnais’ La guerre est finie (The War is Over).
Mozart’s classical opera had never seen such a brilliant and luxurious movie adaptation as this one. Shot in spectacular Italian locations, the film combines Losey’s visual talent and the cinematographer Gerry Fisher with the genius of the Austrian composer, whose work is enhanced thanks to an unrepeatable cast: Ruggero Raimondi, Edda Moser, Kiri Te Kanawa, José Van Dam, Kenneth Riegel and Teresa Berganza, under the baton of Lorin Maazel.
Isabelle Huppert and Jeanne Moreau star in one of the lesser known works on Losey’s filmography, another of his cosmopolitan movies, shot in this case in France and Japan. The film follows the moral dilemma of Frédérique, owner of a trout farm, torn between staying faithful to her ailing husband and her relations with another two men.
Losey’s movie farewell, released after his death in 1984, was also a tribute to an entire British cinema tradition thanks to its three stars: two of its most prestigious actresses, Vanessa Redgrave and Sarah Miles, join the former sex symbol of the 50s, Diana Dors, in her last work for the big screen. Three female patrons of a Turkish hammam set out on a crusade to prevent its closure.