Night Porter

The Night Porter

3.0 8
Director: Liliana Cavani

Cast: Dirk Bogarde, Charlotte Rampling, Philippe Leroy

     
 

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Max (Dirk Bogarde) is a discreet, unassuming night porter working in a posh hotel in Vienna in 1957, tending to the guests' needs, from cold water to a bed-warming gigolo. Then Lucia (Charlotte Rampling) arrives at the hotel, on the arm of her husband, an American composer, and Max's past comes flooding back to him. It turns out Max was an S.S. officer at a Nazi…  See more details below

Overview

Max (Dirk Bogarde) is a discreet, unassuming night porter working in a posh hotel in Vienna in 1957, tending to the guests' needs, from cold water to a bed-warming gigolo. Then Lucia (Charlotte Rampling) arrives at the hotel, on the arm of her husband, an American composer, and Max's past comes flooding back to him. It turns out Max was an S.S. officer at a Nazi concentration camp where Lucia was a beautiful young prisoner. She became, in effect, Max's sexual slave. Now, years later, their reunion shatters both of their lives. Lucia stays in Vienna after her husband travels on, in order to see Max, and they find themselves caught up in a renewal of their former sadomasochistic relationship. Max has an upcoming show trial for his war crimes. His former S.S. comrades have been carefully destroying documents and "filing away" witnesses to clear all their names, and, while Max tries to keep Lucia's existence a secret from them, they eventually find out about her. They consider her a threat, and they urge Max to turn her over to them. He quits his job, and he and Lucia hide out in his apartment, while his former friends keep watch. Liliana Cavani (Ripley's Game) co-wrote and directed this controversial film, Il Portiere di Notte, which she reportedly based partly on her own interviews with a Holocaust survivor.

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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Nathan Southern
Damned in the United States yet praised in European quarters, Liliana Cavani's visceral psychosexual thriller invited controversy by focusing on the twisted bond between a Nazi and his former prisoner/lover. Max (Dirk Bogarde) and Lucia (Charlotte Rampling) cross paths once again in a Vienna hotel c. 1958, and reconsummate a depraved affair. Inevitably, some took the movie to task for what they saw as exploitative, crass and lubricious; many detractors excoriated it for trivializing the Holocaust. Historical veracity doesn't seem to be on Cavani's agenda, however. She constructs a deliberately unreal phantasmorgia onscreen, where Nazi regalia and imagery become not echoes of the literal past, but connotative symbols of sadomasochism per se, often presented in a dreamlike context - as in an oneiric (and violence-free) glimpse of a Nazi carnival torture ride for Jewish girls. Indeed, the movie feels most impressive given how successfully it cross-sections s&m as a conceptual phenomenon, severed from a historical framework. The film gradually becomes a dark immersion into the psyches of two individuals who enjoy giving and receiving pain, and an orchestra of sadomasochistic nuance. Nowhere is this more evident than in the picture's final act. Trapped by their pursuers in a barren apartment, the torturer and his victim/accomplice gradually starve themselves to death, clinging psychologically (and physically) to one other and growing wan and emaciated; at one point, Lucia walks barefoot over broken glass, lacerating the soles of her feet -- an act that single-handedly reveals her need (and desire) for self-abuse. Cavani has, in a few brilliant strokes, stripped away the sex and reduced her two diseased lovers to the core of pathological need. She is bolstered throughout by radical, courageous performances from Bogarde and Rampling, who she doubtless cast given their shared involvement in Visconti's Nazi-themed masterpiece The Damned five years earlier. Though the movie is as difficult to watch as one may expect from its premise, it is also brilliantly conceived and executed, and - in its own bizarre way - effective enough to merit serious reappraisal.

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Product Details

Release Date:
12/09/2014
UPC:
0715515132916
Original Release:
1974
Rating:
R
Source:
Criterion
Region Code:
1
Presentation:
[Wide Screen]
Time:
1:58:00
Sales rank:
11,895

Special Features

New interview with director Liliana Cavani Women of the Resistance, a fifty-minute 1965 documentary by Cavani composed of interviews with female partisans who survived the German invasion of Italy, with an introduction by the filmmaker

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Dirk Bogarde Max
Charlotte Rampling Lucia
Philippe Leroy Klaus
Gabriele Ferzetti Hans,Voglet
Isa Miranda Countess
Amedeo Amodio Bert
Nino Bignamini Adolph
Marino Masé Atherton
Piero Vida Day Porter
Geoffrey Copleston Kurt
Nora Ricci The Neighbor
Giuseppe Addobbati Stumm
Ugo Cardea Mario
Manfred Freiberger Dobson
Luigi Antonio Guerra Actor
Hilda Gunther Greata
Carlo Mangano Actor
Piero Mazzinghi Conceierge
Kai S. Seefeld Jacob

Technical Credits
Liliana Cavani Director,Screenwriter
Barbara Alberti Original Story
Franco Arcalli Editor
Nedo Azzini Art Director
Alfio Contini Cinematographer
Esa DeSimone Producer
Robert Gordon Edwards Producer
Dante Ferretti Production Designer
Italo Moscati Screenwriter
Amedeo Pagani Original Story
Daniele Paris Score Composer
Jean-Marie Simon Art Director
Piero Tosi Costumes/Costume Designer

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Scene Index

Disc #1 -- The Night Porter
1. Men Of Distinction [4:49]
2. A Familiar Face [4:56]
3. No Witnesses [6:25]
4. A Dance For Max [6:33]
5. Peace And Quiet [5:08]
6. At The Opera [6:02]
7. Left Alone [6:59]
8. The Church Mouse [7:19]
9. "Why Did You Come Here?" [10:53]
10. All Is Well [8:47]
11. A Biblical Story [9:58]
12. Broken Glass And Chains [6:02]
13. Inquiries [3:23]
14. A Game For Freaks [2:57]
15. Desperate Measures [5:33]
16. Strawberry Marmalade [5:20]
17. Off The Hook [3:52]
18. Blackout [3:51]
19. At Dawn [4:24]
1. Color Bars [:20]
1. Chapter 1 [4:32]
2. Chapter 2 [:21]
1. Chapter 1 [49:52]
1. Chapter 1 [8:09]
2. Chapter 2 [:22]

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The Night Porter 3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 8 reviews.
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