“It is extraordinary,” Dirk Bogarde recalled in his autobiography, “in this over-permissive age, to believe that this modest film could ever have been considered courageous, daring or dangerous to make. It was, in its time, all three.” Shot in the wake of 1957’s Wolfenden Report, a hotly debated government study that recommended the decriminalization of same-sex relations in Britain, Victim is a supremely artful message film. Taking the shape of a detective story, it concerns a closeted barrister who becomes embroiled in a blackmailing scheme targeting gay men, prompting him to take on the extortionists despite the cost to his marriage and promising career. As the first commercial production in the UK to fully address homosexuality, Victim is a social landmark, yet its reverberations can be felt still further across film history; it made a tremendous impression, in particular, on a then-teenage Terence Davies.
This film has no current screenings