At face value, Basil Dearden's Victim is a rather conventional crime story about a powerful lawyer, Melville Farr, who agrees to defend an old friend, Jack, on a theft charge. While it seems simple enough at first, Farr learns that his friend's thievery was due to blackmail, leading him onto a massive blackmailing scheme. What sets Basil Dearden's film apart though is that Farr's friend, Jack, also happens to also be his ex-lover. At the time of its release, homosexuality was considered a criminal offense in England, yet Victim holds back no punches at showing the absurdity of such a law. As the film progresses we learn that this blackmailing scheme strictly targets homosexuals, whom really have no other option, besides prison, so they to pay whatever is demanded of them. Being only my second exposure to Basil Dearden I am no expert, but he seems to not be the type of filmmaker known for his style but rather his moral intentions. His films are not flashy or stylish, yet they are well crafted and aim to show the viewer problems with our society. Victim was one of, if not the first film to show homosexuals in a normal light. There is no judgement in how they are portrayed in this film, just the average man which was definitely a far cry from the more flamboyant characters common in most films at the time. The interaction between Farr and his wife is probably my favorite aspect of Victim. Farr is clearly a man with homosexual tendencies and even though he cares greatly for his wife, he does not love her in the same way as a heterosexual man. The interaction between these two characters beautifully captures the whole essence of how being a homosexual is not a choice. Obviously there is no law against homosexuality today but Basil Dearden's Victim is a film that unfortunately still rings very true to this day, capturing how fear and lack of understanding of someone different leads to hate.
Love of all things cinema brought me here.