Joseph Losey: A Revenge on Life

David Caute

“His life and art were inseparable, but in a sense art came before life: that is, it took precedence where individuals were concerned. And what of the ethics of that: well, life lived and grew on his art… People got sacrificed sometimes.”—Losey on Brecht, ‘L’oeil du Maitre,’ 1960
This statement may apply equally to Losey himself, the creator of 31 features which range from the puritan social messages of his early work to the increasingly baroque style of his later films. Born in 1909, in La Crosse, Wisconsin, into a once wealthy family, Losey was reared in an environment which fueled his adult art; in which “wealth, sex and power are interwoven in a tapestry of constant torment and pain,” where “the sexes butcher one another.” He began his career in the ‘30s with the experimental theater in New York. Moving to Hollywood, Losey directed some less-than- memorable films while subverting the system to create the cult classic The Boy With Green Hair. After blacklisting forced him into exile, he reestablished himself as a European director. His collaborations with Harold Pinter—the films Accident, The Go Between, and his great classic The Servant—ensured his cinematic immortality. His creative generosity, alcoholism and sometimes brutal egoism elicited a full range of critical reaction while being honored in Europe and ignored by Hollywood. JAT

Publisher: Oxford University
Hardback: 607 pages