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Il portiere di notte (The Night Porter)

Il portiere di notte (The Night Porter) (1974)

tomatometer

20

Average Rating: 3.6/10
Critic Reviews: 5
Fresh: 1 | Rotten: 4

No consensus yet.

audience

71

liked it
Average Rating: 3.6/5
User Ratings: 5,118

My Rating

Movie Info

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

R,

Drama, Art House & International, Cult Movies

Liliana Cavani

Jan 11, 2000

Criterion Collection

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All Critics (22) | Top Critics (6) | Fresh (14) | Rotten (7) | DVD (4)

A strange, brooding tale.

July 16, 2008 Full Review Source: Variety
Variety
Top Critic IconTop Critic

With a little application and imagination I suppose one might read themes of political and philosophical import into this work, but Cavani's style remains stupidly literal and gaga.

July 16, 2008 Full Review Source: Chicago Reader
Chicago Reader
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Somewhere along the way, the film's handling of serious themes, and its attempts to examine the Nazi legacy in terms of repression and guilt, both sexual and political, get lost amid all the self-conscious decadence.

January 26, 2006 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The movie's visual virtues are negated by infinite absurdities -- particularly by the sentimentality with which the director views this luckless couple.

May 9, 2005 Full Review Source: New York Times
New York Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The Night Porter is as nasty as it is lubricious, a despicable attempt to titillate us by exploiting memories of persecution and suffering.

October 23, 2004 Full Review Source: Chicago Sun-Times
Chicago Sun-Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Morbidly fascinating work, choreographed from within a vacuum devoid of feeling and retribution, and spearheaded by a director who must find some sadistic pleasure in being such an exacting provocateur.

August 1, 2013 Full Review Source: Cinemaphile.org
Cinemaphile.org

Not rich in plausability of plot or character development, but tonally interesting in places.

July 16, 2008 Full Review Source: Empire Magazine
Empire Magazine

People can read artistic significance into anything and lots of people have read gobs of it into this, but it is a silly movie with lots of perverse sex and no redeeming values, artistic or otherwise.

July 16, 2008

A strange and unforgettable picture that questions deeply the psyches of torturers and the tortured.

July 16, 2008 Full Review Source: TV Guide's Movie Guide
TV Guide's Movie Guide

It retains a certain importance -- as much for understanding the history of film as for its intrinsic merits.

March 1, 2004 Full Review Source: Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC)
Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC)

Groundbreaking might not be the right word, but it's certainly the right sentiment.

October 28, 2003 Full Review Source: Filmcritic.com
Filmcritic.com

A estranha relação entre o casal de protagonistas transforma o filme em uma experiência nada agradável - o que não quer dizer que ele não mereça ser admirado como belo estudo de personagens e por revelar sombras assustadoras da natureza humana.

October 9, 2003
Cinema em Cena

A compelling and disturbing testament to the enduring power of evil and the complexity of human nature.

May 24, 2003 Full Review Source: Film4
Film4

This undignified film couldn't quite get past all the sleaze it dredged up.

August 6, 2002 Full Review Source: Ozus' World Movie Reviews
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

Audience Reviews for Il portiere di notte (The Night Porter)

If I assembled a list of my favorite sadomasochistic Nazi co-dependency films made prior to 1975 that featured topless dancers is SS uniforms, this would definitely be in the top five.
August 1, 2009
flixsterman
Randy Tippy

Super Reviewer

perversely sweet. i think it is of interest that an italian director chose 1950s Vienna as a setting for the re-enactment of a sado-masochistic affair from concentration camp days. it seems the ss officer and his 'little girl' cloister themselves, potentially out of shame, and their existence leads to an inevitable conclusion.

Visconti's 'The Damned' was filmed 5 years prior with Charlotte Rampling and Dirk Bogarde during the third reich. I think it will be interesting to compare the films, so it's my next movie to watch.
December 9, 2008
bookmunki

Super Reviewer

For a movie about a kinky romance between an ex-Nazi and his former prisoner, "The Night Porter" is bewilderingly dull. A full 50 minutes pass before the two principals meet, and even after they do, there are only fleeting glimpses of the sexual electricity that the film's reputation suggests.

The setting is Vienna, 12 years after World War II. Max (Dirk Bogarde, typically uncomfortable and repressed) is a semi-reformed Nazi who posed as a wartime doctor in order to exploit beautiful prisoners such as Lucia (Charlotte Rampling, and her incredible sea-green eyes). Now he's the anonymous concierge at a posh hotel, improbably speaking perfect English. A matured Lucia, the elegant wife of an orchestra conductor, comes to stay at the hotel by chance. The two instantly recognize each other and soon can't resist resuming their past submissive/dominant relationship. Meanwhile, Max is in touch with some other ex-Nazis who steadily conspire to bury all evidence of their shared history. Naturally, they are concerned when Max toils to keep his eyewitness lover from being silenced.

Bogarde and Rampling are masterful in difficult roles that not only explore controversial subjects but require ample acting through behavior and facial expression alone. Unfortunately, the many wordless minutes also mean the film is quite slow-paced. And sorry, there isn't much flashy sadomasochism in this dour tale -- the most shocking moment is probably just a foreplay shot where Max purposely grinds his bare foot into some broken glass. We do get the unexpected pleasure of eloquent ballet choreography (credit Italian dancer Amedeo Amodio), along with a topless torch song from Rampling that will make jaws drop and pulses race.

Interestingly, Bogarde and Rampling also appeared in "The Damned," an earlier Italian film with a Nazi theme.
November 12, 2011
Eric Broome

Super Reviewer

There's a lot wrong with The Night Porter it's a sickening film, and not because of what it shows, but the inexplicable exploitation of the holocaust. Before I say why I don't consider this "art" by any means, I'll start with some technical problems. The acting was stiff and unattractive, the visuals were never intriguing, and dark visuals can sometimes be the greatest. The plot is based is based to much on coincidence. And worst of all this makes no attempt to create a German concentration camp worker, or someone who has suffered through this. I didn't detect any accents, any physical signs, it's just lazy garbage.

And now I'm pretty lenient in what I consider wrong to exploit for a film, or even caring about a directors personal actions. I love Polanski and Lars Von Trier "I'm a nazi moment" was one of the funniest things I've ever seen. But to turn holocaust victims into Nazi d**k cravers, who just all happen to becomes obsessed with the world of BDSM, is not a subject that should be looked at as legit. It loses all potential meaning due to its craving for controversy. It's far from anything meaningful, a picture to be missed, unless you're into some over the top kinkiness. Liliani Cavini is scum.
October 8, 2013
Daniel Dolgin

Super Reviewer

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Foreign Titles

  • Der Nachtportier (DE)
  • The Night Porter (UK)
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