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Accident is Harold Pinter's 1967 British dramatic film adaptation of the 1965 novel by Nicholas Mosley. Directed by Joseph Losey, it was the second of three collaborations between Pinter and Losey, the others being The Servant (1963) and The Go-Between (1970).[2] At the 1967 Cannes Film Festival, it won the award for Grand Prix Spécial du Jury.[3] It also won the prestigious Grand Prix of the Belgian Film Critics Association.

Accident movie poster.jpg
Directed byJoseph Losey
Produced byJoseph Losey
Norman Priggen
Screenplay byHarold Pinter
Based onthe novel by Nicholas Mosley
StarringDirk Bogarde
Stanley Baker
Jacqueline Sassard
Music byJohn Dankworth
CinematographyGerry Fisher
Edited byReginald Beck
Distributed byLondon Independent Producers
Release date
February 1967
Running time
105 minutes
CountryUnited Kingdom


Stephen, a married Oxford tutor in his forties, has two students: the rich and likeable William, of whom he is fond, and a beautiful, enigmatic Austrian named Anna, whom he secretly covets. William also fancies Anna and hopes to know her better. Stephen, while his wife is away having their third child, looks up an old flame in London and they sleep together. Returning home, he finds that his pushy colleague Charley has broken in and is using the house for sex with Anna. Her tryst discovered, she tells Stephen privately that she is getting engaged to William. Excited at his good fortune, William says he will call round to Stephen's house after a party that night. As William is too drunk to drive, Anna takes the wheel and crashes the car outside Stephen's gate. Upon finding the accident and William dead, Stephen pulls the deeply shaken Anna from the wreckage and hides her upstairs while he calls the police. When they have gone, he forces himself on her although she is still in shock and then takes her back to her rooms. He comes by in the morning to find a bemused Charley who cannot prevent Anna from packing to go back to Austria.



The screenplay showcased playwright Harold Pinter's trademark style, depicting the menace and angst bubbling just beneath the surface of commonplace remarks and seemingly innocent or banal situations. The crowning metaphor of the film comes when we see a dazed but unhurt Anna crushing her dying fiancé beneath her high-heeled shoe as she steps on his face while trying desperately to climb out of the overturned car.


The film confused many viewers who were not sure what it meant. "It's obvious what Accident meant," said Stanley Baker, who acted a lead role in the film. "It meant what was shown on the screen." Baker did concede of Joseph Losey's filmmaking that, "One of Joe's problems is that he tends to wrap things up too much for himself. I think that 75% of the audience didn't realise that Accident was a flashback."[5]

In his review upon the film's release, New York Times critic Bosley Crowther was unimpressed, calling the film "a sad little story of a wistful don" that was "neither strong drama nor stinging satire".[6]

More recently, the film has been called a "masterpiece" by Boston Globe critic Peter Keogh.[7]

Financially the film performed poorly. In 1973 Losey said it was "officially in bankruptcy."[8]



  1. ^ Edith de Rham, Joseph Losey, Andre Deutsch 1991 p 180
  2. ^ Nick James (27 June 2007). "Joseph Losey & Harold Pinter: In Search of PoshLust Times". BFI. British Film Institute. Archived from the original on 19 June 2009. Retrieved 19 June 2009. From Venetian decadence and British class war to Proustian time games, the films of Joseph Losey and Harold Pinter gave us a new, ambitious, high-culture kind of art film, says Nick James.
  3. ^ "Festival de Cannes: Accident". Archived from the original on 18 January 2012. Retrieved 2009-03-08.
  4. ^ Carole Caplin interview: "I'm a survivor", The Observer, 13 May 2012
  5. ^ Mary Blume, 'Stanley Baker Likes to Act', Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 14 Aug 1971: a8.
  6. ^ Crowther, Bosley (18 April 1967). "'Accident' Opens:Cinema II Has a Movie With Pinter Script". The New York Times.
  7. ^ Keogh, Peter (2 October 2014). "In 'Accident,' a mystery and a movie masterpiece". The Boston Globe.
  8. ^ Losey on 'broken promises' Barker, Dennis. The Guardian 1 Aug 1973: 6.

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