The Go-Between (film)
Original British quad format poster
|Directed by||Joseph Losey|
|Produced by||John Heyman
|Screenplay by||Harold Pinter|
|Based on||The Go-Between
by L. P. Hartley
|Music by||Michel Legrand|
|Edited by||Reginald Beck|
|Distributed by||MGM-EMI Distributors (UK)
Columbia Pictures (US)
|Budget||£500,000 or under $1 million|
The Go-Between is a 1971 British romantic drama film, directed by Joseph Losey. Its screenplay, by Harold Pinter, is an adaptation of the 1953 novel of the same name by L. P. Hartley. The film stars Julie Christie, Alan Bates, Margaret Leighton, Michael Redgrave and Dominic Guard.
The story follows a young boy named Leo Colston (Dominic Guard), who in the year 1900 is invited by a school friend, Marcus Maudsley (Richard Gibson), to spend the summer holidays at a Norfolk country house occupied by his family. While Leo is there, Marcus is taken sick, and Leo finds himself becoming a messenger (go-between) carrying messages between Marcus's older sister, Marian Maudsley (Julie Christie), and a farmer neighbour, Ted Burgess (Alan Bates) with whom she is secretly in love. However, her parents want her to become engaged to the owner of the house and estate, Hugh, Viscount Trimingham (played by Edward Fox). A heatwave leads to a thunderstorm, which coincides with Leo's birthday party and the climax of the film, when Marion's mother and Leo find Marion and Burgess making love in an outbuilding. This event has a long-lasting impact on Leo, and it leads to Burgess being sent to fight in the Second Boer War, in which he is killed.
More than fifty years later, Marion, now the Dowager Lady Trimingham, sends for Leo, wanting him to speak to her grandson to explain to him that she had truly loved Burgess. She asks Leo whether her grandson reminds him of anyone, and he replies "Yes. Ted Burgess".
Michael Redgrave plays Leo in old age.
Pinter's screenplay for the film was his final collaboration with Losey, following The Servant (1963) and Accident (1967). It is largely faithful to the novel, although it alludes to the novel's opening events in dialogue and incorporates events described in the novel's epilogue within the central narrative.
- Julie Christie as Marian Maudsley (Lady Trimingham)
- Edward Fox as Hugh Trimingham
- Alan Bates as Ted Burgess
- Margaret Leighton as Mrs. Maudsley
- Michael Redgrave as the older Leo Colston
- Dominic Guard as the young Leo Colston
- Michael Gough as Mr. Maudsley
- Richard Gibson as Marcus Maudsley
- Simon Hume-Kendall as Denys
- Roger Lloyd-Pack as Charles
- Amaryllis Garnett as Kate
The rights to the novel had been in the hands of many producers, among them Sir Alex Korda, who purchased it in 1956. He originally envisioned Alec Guinness and Margaret Leighton in the leads and employed Nancy Mitford to write a script.
Joseph Losey was interested in filming the novel. He tried to get financing for a version in 1963 after The Servant and then again in 1968.
Eventually John Heyman managed to get financing from EMI Films, where Bryan Forbes agreed to pay £75,000 for the script. Because of the relatively steep budget, EMI had to seek co-production financing from MGM.
Michel Legrand composed the soundtrack for the film. The main theme was later used as the title music for the French "true crime" documentary series Faites entrer l'accusé (in French Wikipedia). The love theme "I Still See You" written by Legrand with lyrics by Hal Sharper was performed by Scott Walker and released as a single in late 1971.
The film was first shown in May 1971 at the 1971 Cannes Film Festival, where it won the Palme d'Or. A few days before, James Aubrey, head of MGM, had sold his interest in it to Columbia Pictures, because he disliked the final film and regarded it a flop.
The film was released in the UK on 24 September 1971, opening at ABC1 on Shaftesbury Avenue in London. A month later, on 29 October, Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother arrived at the ABC Cinema on Prince of Wales Road in Norwich to attend the local premiere, thus giving Norwich its first ever Royal Premiere.
An enthusiastic John Russell Taylor wrote in The Times that, "Up to now, Accident was without argument Losey's best film; now in The Go-Between it has a serious contender for the title. And everything is achieved by apparently doing the absolute minimum."
Charles Champlain in the Los Angeles Times wrote after the US premiere in November 1971 that The Go-Between was one of the best films of the previous six years. Andrew Sarris in the Village Voice labelled it the best film of the year. Joanne Klein saw the filmscript as a major stylistic and technical advance in Pinter’s work for the screen, and Foster Hirsch described it as “one of the world’s great films”.
In 1999, it was included on the British Film Institute's list of its 100 best British films. At the BAFTA festival it was nominated in no less than 12 categories, winning four; Screenplay: Harold Pinter (his second BAFTA), Edward Fox (Supporting actor), Dominic Guard (Most Promising Newcomer to Leading Film Roles), Supporting actress: Margaret Leighton (her second nomination and her only win), which makes it one of the most successful in the history of the competition.
- The Times, 24 September 1971, page 9: The shadows of a country-house summer (film review by John Russell Taylor) - Read 2014-01-11 in The Times Digital Archive
- BBFC: The Go-Between Linked 2014-01-11
- Walker, Alexander (1974). Hollywood UK – The British Film Industry in the Sixties. Stein and Day. p. 439. ISBN 978-0-812-81549-8.
- Losey Revels in Happy 'Go-Between' By MEL GUSSOW. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 11 Aug 1971: 44.
- Bryan Forbes: A Divided Life – Memoirs (page 100)
- The Go-Between: EMI Films 1970 at Norwich the old city.
- Compare the movie's main theme on YouTube with the one for the French crime series on YouTube.
- Festival de Cannes: The Go-Between (Le Messager), Grand Prix International du Festival, 1971 Linked 2014-01-11
- Bryan Forbes: A Divided Life – Memoirs (page 221)
- East Anglian Film Archive: Anglia News: Queen Mother at Premiere of 'The Go-Between' at ABC Norwich Linked 2014-01-11
- NAT COHEN. "British film finance." The Times [London, England] 20 Aug. 1971: 13. The Times Digital Archive. Web. 6 Apr. 2014.
- Sarris, Andrew. “The Go-Between.” Village Voice (12 August 1971), n. p.
- Billington, Michael (2007). Harold Pinter. 2nd ed. London: Faber and Faber. ISBN 978-0-571-23476-9. [Updated edition of The Life and Work of Harold Pinter (London: Faber, 1996).]
- Forbes, Bryan (1993). A Divided Life – Memoirs. Mandarin Publishing. ISBN 978-0-749-30884-1.
- Gale, Steven H. (2003). Sharp Cut – Harold Pinter's Screenplays and the Artistic Process. Lexington, Kentucky: University Press of Kentucky. ISBN 978-0-813-12244-1.
- Gale, Steven H. (editor; 2001). The Films of Harold Pinter. Albany, New York: State University of New York Press. ISBN 978-0-791-44931-8.
- Hartop, Christopher (2011). Norfolk Summer: Making The Go-Between. Cambridge: John Adamson. ISBN 978-1-898565-07-9.
- The Go-Between in the British Film Institute's "Explore film..." database
- The Go-Between at the British Film Institute's Screenonline
- The Go-Between at the Internet Movie Database
- HaroldPinter.org: Films by Harold Pinter - The Go Between