Joseph Losey, American movie director, dies

LONDON -- Joseph Losey, an American director who moved to Britain after being blacklisted in the McCarthy era and made critically acclaimed films such as 'The Go-Between' and 'The Servant,' died Friday, his agent said. He was 75.

Losey 'died in his sleep' at his home in the chic Chelsea neighborhood of London, a spokeswoman for Cowan Bellew Associates said. The cause of his death was not released.


Losey recently completed 'Steaming,' a movie starring Vanessa Redgrave, the late Diana Dors and Sarah Miles, scheduled for release in late 1984, his agent said.

He directed about 30 major films in a career that began in Hollywood after he was released from military service in 1945.

Kevin Thomas, a Los Angeles Times film critic, recalled Losey as a 'major director and extraordinary stylist.'

'Joe had been an expatriate so long he became a European director. In fact, his last films were in French,' Thomas said. 'Some films were flawed but always in interesting ways.'


One of his best-known films, 'The Go-Between,' starring Julie Christie and Alan Bates, won the Golden Palm award at the 1971 Cannes Film Festival. 'Mr. Klein,' a gripping saga of the rounding up of French Jews by the Nazis during Warld War II, won France's Cesar award for best film and director.

A less successful production was 'Boom' with Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor, a high-budget 1968 film that received lukewarm reviews.

Born in LaCrosse, Wis., in 1909, Losey was blacklisted by the Hollywood studios after he refused in 1951 to testify before the House Commitee on Un-American Activities, chaired by Sen. Joseph R. McCarthy R-Wis., which was investigating communist influence in the United States.

Losey left the United States in 1952 and settled in London, where he eventually established himself as Britain's foremost film director. He kept his U.S. citizenship.

'After being blacklisted, Mr. Losey went to England and made a good career, better than his work in America before,' said Bob Presnell, screenwriter of 'Let No Man Write My Epitaph' and Losey's close friend. 'He handled the blacklisting with dignity and prospered in England.'

When he arrived in London, Losey recalled desperately seeking any work he could get.


'I was bargain-basement,' he told a New York Times interviewer in 1967. 'They paid me what they wanted to, and I was grateful, because at least they employed me, under whatever conditions.'

His early British films included 'The Concrete Jungle' and 'These Are the Damned,' which made him a hero among avant-garde French critics.

In 1963, the release of 'The Servant' starring Dirk Borgarde, the first of his British films to gain popularity in the United States, made Losey an international figure.

Critics praised 'The Servant' for the sensitive treatment of conflicts between individuals and between the individual and society.

'It seems to me that people are terribly lonely. They are lonely and full of betrayals in themselves and each other,' Losey once said.

Losey also directed commercials for British television, a sideline that gave him the financial freedom to work only on films that interested him.

'At the moment,' Losey told an interviewer in 1967, 'I'm the highest paid television commercial maker in this country. It's not a great distinction, but it's a great comfort.'

Losey entered Dartmouth College at 16 to study medicine, but turned to drama and majored in English. He graduated from Harvard University in 1930 with an MA degree in English.


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