Date of Award

12-1-2011

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Department

English

First Advisor

Williams, Tony

Abstract

This interdisciplinary dissertation examines the relationship between exile and collaborative authorship in the films of blacklisted American director Joseph Losey and British-Jewish playwright/screenwriter Harold Pinter. During the 1960s and early 1970s, they collaborated on the celebrated British art-house films The Servant (1963, based on the novella by Robin Maugham), Accident (1967, based on the novel by Nicholas Mosley), and The Go-Between (1971, based on the novel by L.P. Hartley), which won the prestigious Palme d'Or at the 1971 Cannes International Film Festival. Both Losey and Pinter commented frequently on the synergistic nature of their successful collaboration, but Anglo-American film scholarship tends to often incorrectly interpret the collaboration as a disproportionate alliance of talent with Losey serving subordinately to the Nobel laureate Pinter's dramatic genius. Moving beyond the auteur critics' emphasis on solitary film authorship, this dissertation reads the Losey and Pinter collaboration through the lens of exilic cinema. Losey and Pinter's shared exilic vision--the synthesis of the exiled blacklistee Losey and the British-Jewish insider-outsider Pinter--interrogated a British culture that, during the 1960s and early 1970s, possessed a new allure due, in large part, to the international popularity of the Beatles, James Bond, and the fashion of designer Mary Quant. Yet this veneer of sex appeal and economic prosperity veiled ongoing class and racial tension, gender inequality, homosexual oppression, and a dissolving Empire. Losey and Pinter foreground these socio-political issues through a complex modernist film aesthetic, which challenged the classical Hollywood and British narrative film structure by bending genre conventions and archetypes in The Servant, and later fusing elements of modernist literature and Continental European art-house cinema, particularly the films of the French Nouvelle Vague and Rive Gauche filmmakers, in Accident and The Go-Between. This dissertation analyzes The Servant, Accident, and The Go-Between against the socio-political climate of Britain in the 1960s and early 1970s, as well as the creative and economic alliance between the British and Hollywood film industries during this significant filmmaking period. The goal is not only to illustrate that the Losey-Pinter collaboration cannot be placed easily within a single author paradigm, but also that studies of film collaboration need to consider relevant historical, socio-political, and industrial factors.

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