The Night Porter is a very notorious cult classic that came out in 1974 directed by Liliana Cavani (Ripley’s Game). It’s a film that hasn’t age well in the proceeding years and tries to be a art film when it’s just a piece of exploitation cinema.
The story is about a Night Porter called Maxamilian (Dirk Bogarde) at a Vienna hotel, he has a dark secret he was a SS officer. He had a sadomasochistic relationship with a girl Lucia at a concentration camp, it’s suggested that she was Jewish but it’s never mentioned. Their history is all told in flashback though out the film. They rekindle their relationship many years later against a backdrop of a trial Max is about to face about his war crimes. However he has been meeting with old Nazi chums who are destroying evidence to get away clean. They eventually find out about the girl and want her dead so they hid away in a hotel room.
The film much of it’s time, it’s one of those 70s “art” films that on the edge of being a sex film or a serious art film for example I am Curious series. The film fails are both however it’s a rather interesting film about a woman despite what Max did to her still feels connected to him. Which is a rather daring story to tell. However it’s overly long would have worked a lot better a 90-minute thriller than it’s slightly less than 2 hour running time. Way many long shots of them stuck in this bedroom.
The acting by the 2 leads are quite good especially Dirk Bogarde pull off the complex role of a man who hates his past but also wants parts of it back. Charlotte Rampling’s performance as the girl Lucia is despite her great acting in flashback sequences is pretty bland, she just lying around a hotel room not doing a whole lot. The supporting cast of his Nazi chums are quite effective as well.
Overall it’s a fascinating if somewhat pretentious attempt to tell a fascinating serious story. However the Dirk Bogarde really saves it from being a bad film. It’s overly long and I rarely say that about a film. I could trim at least 20 minutes out and it would work better. It’s worth checking out but it’s not very shocking as some people may suggest.