Going Back To 1971’s “The Go-Between”

L.P. Hartley’s novel “The Go-Between,” unread by me, might be successful, but I deem the 1971 film version an interesting failure. Directed by Joseph Losey and scripted by Harold Pinter, it is set in turn-of-the-century England and tells of a boy, Leo, who is enlisted to be the go-between for two lovers—Marian and Ted—from different social classes. He delivers letters for them and the affair is clandestine. Much to Leo’s consternation, however, Marian is soon engaged to be married to prosperous Hugh Trimingham but remains involved with Ted. A story of innocence and experience, it is nicely cinematically crafted in several ways.

What exactly does Marian see in Ted, though? What kind of person is she? We do not know. And I sense that Julie Christie is not quite the actress to play her. She has charm but that’s all. Further, I disesteem Edward Fox as Trimingham, whereas Alan Bates is manfully persuasive as Ted. Dominic Guard is okay as Leo. By no means can they save “The Go-Between,” however, which is not even dramatically meaty at all. There is nothing gripping about Marian’s anxious mother (Margaret Leighton) rushing in the rain with Leo to try to catch her daughter with Ted. Still, as I said, the film is interesting.

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