Wednesday, September 28, 2016

CORRUPTION

Robert Hartford-Davis, 1968
Starring: Peter Cushing, Sue Lloyd, Kate O’Mara, Noel Trevarthen

A renowned plastic surgeon, Sir John Rowan (Peter Cushing), is at a party with his young girlfriend Lynn (Sue Lloyd), a model, when things get out of hand. He wants to leave, but she’s being fawned over by a photographer, and a scuffle breaks out in the crowd; a photo light falls over, smashing right on Lynn’s face, ruining it. It becomes Rowan’s obsession to make a surgical breakthrough and repair her beauty, and he begins experimenting with a series of (I believe) hypothalamus transplants, which at first seems like a miraculous cure and her face is restored without any hint of scarring or trauma. But this is only temporary and soon Rowan must replace the transplant, causing him to find increasingly homicidal ways to procure new glands…

Anyone who reads this blog is well aware of my frenzied love for Peter Cushing (two words: slap fetish), but I have to admit that while I really enjoy Corruption, I don’t quite rank it alongside some of his other performances from the late ‘60s through early ‘70s, though the bar is set quite high with things like the Sherlock Holmes (1968) TV series, Twins of Evil (1971), Dracula A.D. 1972 (1972), Fear in the Night (1972), and — drumroll — Horror Express (1972). In a weird way, I think the fact that Corruption was unavailable for so long has inflated its reputation, a bit, as a truly nasty piece of work. Cushing is nowhere near as maniacal as he is in Twins of Evil or Fear in the Night, or even Madhouse (1974), and the film’s interesting twist (this isn’t really a spoiler) is that he is goaded into killing by Lynn, who is almost maniacally obsessed with becoming beautiful — and staying that way. Though they have some traits in common, Sir John Rowan is a far cry from the Baron Frankenstein.

It’s also strange to think how neglected director Robert Hartford-Davis has been compared to other British genre directors; no disrespect to Terence Fisher or Pete Walker, but there are other talents out there. Hartford-Davis directed some other horror films, such as The Black Torment (1964), Incense for the Damned (1970), and The Fiend (1972), all of which I’ll be reviewing for my British horror series. If I had to sum up these titles (including Corruption), I think the best way I could describe them is flawed, but always interesting, and as far as low budget genre cinema goes, there’s not a lot more than I could ask for. I’m hoping some of his other titles get more attention and wider releases in the future. Unlike some of the other British genre directors, who as a rule tended to stick to similar themes, Hartford-Davis is at least in part interesting because he was all over the place. Corruption is essentially a riff on the glorious Eyes Without a Face (1960), but is a thoroughly British grindhouse interpretation of the material (though admittedly it doesn’t approach the level of insanity found in Jess Franco’s The Awful Dr. Orloff or Michael fucking Pataki’s Mansion of the Doomed…).

One of the best — and also most awkward — things about the film is that everything is set in swinging London. This results in a lot of unintentional, often unpleasant humor, and it has everything from a ridiculous party to an Austin Powers-like photo shoot that must be seen to be believed. Swinging London is admittedly one of my favorite time period settings for late ‘60s/early ‘70s horror and I hope that one day I can do a swinging London film festival, complete with things like Psychomania, Deadly Sweet, Dracula A.D. 1972, Raw Meat, and Scream and Scream Again. (Appropriate costumes will be mandatory.) Speaking of costumes, Cushing’s Sir Rowan is endearingly out of place in his fiancee’s world and, like so much British cinema from this period, much of the tension — and his encroaching, increasingly sweaty and disheveled madness — comes from this divide between free-wheeling youth and the reserved, traditional older generation.

I think part of why this film was soured a bit for me — and where some of the aforementioned youth comes into play — is the twist ending, although it’s not quite a surprise twist, but more a directional change of course, a sharp left turn that basically transforms this into a home invasion film (and with very, very few exceptions, I hate those). Rowan and Lynn go off to an isolated seaside cottage and hope to ensnare a lonely young woman, but she isn’t all that she seems. And so on. Despite that, this is a solid effort from Hartford-Davis and Cushing, who both seem to be having a great time, though I believe Cushing later said it was one of his worst films. Hammer-regular Kate O’Mara (The Vampire Lovers, The Horror of Frankenstein) is sadly underused, but keep your eyes peeled for other genre actresses like Vanessa Howard (Girly) and Valerie Van Ost (The Satanic Rites of Dracula).

Even though it’s not among my favorite Cushing films, or even British horror movies, Corruption is one of those sleaze gems that soundly fits under the description of “grindhouse” — so of course it’s fitting that it was restored and released on Blu-ray by the great Grindhouse Releasing with two versions of the film (the US/UK version and the gorier and more explicit European cut) and a load of special features. They go above and beyond with all of their releases — and all of the titles they chosen really have something special — but this was an obvious labor of love and both the release and the film come recommended. And let us not forget the amazing tagline: “CORRUPTION Is Not A Woman's Picture! Therefore: No Woman Will Be Admitted Alone To See This Super-Shock Film!” Perhaps the real problem is not with Corruption, but that I’m a woman and I watched the film alone.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

TWISTED NERVE

Roy Boulting, 1968
Starring: Hywel Bennett, Hayley Mills, Billie Whitelaw

“No puppet master pulls the strings on high
Proportioning our parts, the tinsel and the paint
A twisted nerve, a ganglion gone awry,
Predestinates the sinner and the saint.”
—George Sylvester Viereck’s “Slaves”

A troubled young man, Martin, spies a pretty girl in a toy store while she’s making a purchase and he’s in the act of stealing a duck. Pretending to be mentally challenged, he gets away with a minor complaint against him and the girl, Susan, a librarian studying to become a teacher, takes pity on him. This leads to a dangerous infatuation with Susan, who comes to know him as “Georgie”; he goes so far as to get himself invited to live at the boarding house run by Susan’s mother. Martin’s brother Pete, who lives in an asylum, is actually handicapped and it is their family that seems to somehow be the root cause of Martin’s own disturbance; his anxious mother and domineering stepfather certainly don’t help matters. These tensions, combined with his fixation on Susan, lead him down a dark and violent path...

What the actual hell? Twisted Nerve has what is probably the most insane premise out of all the British young psycho killer films (with the possible exception of the far more brutal Night Must Fall, though that film begins far more conventionally); at minimum, Twisted Nerve definitely has the most tasteless premise. It certainly couldn’t be made today and even though this is likely to offend someone, somewhere, I can’t help but love the sheer cheek of it. Directed by the somewhat unknown Roy Boulting — of films like Design for Murder and There’s a Girl in My Soup, though he’s perhaps best known for producing his brother John’s absolutely amazing British noir Brighton Rock (1947)he does a solid job building suspense here.

But the film absolutely belongs to British television fixture Hywel Bennett, whose performance as Martin/Georgie is nearly able to overcome some of the film’s issues. In particular, his facial control is unforgettable, and much of his subdued, almost sedate performance lies in subtle changes of expression that indicate whether he’s still Martin or has switched into Georgie. Often this happens without a moment’s notice. And if it wasn’t enough that he’s pretending to have some sort of mental disorder out of boredom (and barely masked psychopathy), the film also pushes the limits of sexual content with some scenes of male nudity and implied masturbation. Martin seems to have body dysmorphic disorder, or at least some very serious sexual issues, akin to those of Peeping Tom.

An obvious precursor to this film, Peeping Tom’s screenwriter, the wonderful Leo Marks, also penned Twisted Nerve. Disturbingly, the title is taken from the above quoted poem by a fascinating but basically forgotten figure, George Viereck, a German-born writer. Viereck emigrated to the United States in the 1890s (around the same time as my own family, as a random side note of absolutely no interest to anyone but myself), where he developed a reputation as a poet — curiously one with homoerotic themes, which also appear in Twisted Nerve. As his writing career grew, thanks to some work in the fields of psychoanalysis and science, he met and developed relationships with everyone from Tesla to Hitler, and even Aleister Crowley. But Viereck was a staunch supporter of Hitler and eventually landed himself in prison in the US for his vigorous support of Nazism. He doesn’t have a whole lot to do with Twisted Nerve, but was too fascinating for me not to at least mention, and I can’t help but wonder if the well-read Marks — himself a veteran of the espionage and code-breaking fields during WWII — used Viereck as something of an inspiration for Martin.

It’s also a bit unfair to just rest the complete success of the film at the feet of either Marks or Bennett, as there’s a great supporting cast, which includes a number of established stage actors who also made appearances in genre films, such as Billie Whitelaw (The Omen) as Susan’s mother, Frank Finlay (The Deadly Bees) as Martin’s stepfather, and the delightful Barry Foster (Frenzy) as a lascivious tenant, whose side role is my favorite thing about the film. He's so wonderful that it's almost unfair to the other actors. It’s weird for me to see Hayley Mills in a horror movie — I’m familiar with her solely because of the Disney Channel’s incessant screening of The Parent Trap when I was a kid — but she’s very well used here in the sort of wide-eyed, well-meaning innocent role that pops up in a lot of these types of films. She begins to get wise to "Georgie," which at least elevates her a bit from the hapless victim type that Hammer couldn't get away from during this period.

Twisted Nerve comes recommended, though it’s probably not quite what you’d expect, unless you've seen a lot of these English psychopath films. There are a few murders — Martin uses his sudden lack of fixed identity and new residence to provide him with an alibi — though they are relatively bloodless or occur off-screen. The most famous thing about the film is actually the Bernard Herrmann score, which has one of the single most punishing songs in any horror film, though it should come as no surprise that Herrmann turns it into a compelling and oddly flexible theme that repeats throughout the film in several different ways; you’ll also probably recognize it from Kill Bill. Pick Twisted Nerve up on DVD. It’s got nothing on Straight on Till Morning, but really, what has?

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

BERSERK

Jim O’Connolly, 1967
Starring: Joan Crawford, Judy Geeson, Ty Hardin A traveling circus in Europe is prey to a number of tragedies — beginning with a tightrope walker falling to his death — before it becomes clear to Scotland Yard and to the circus owner, Monica Rivers, that a madman is loose under the big top. Suspects include Rivers herself, who has profited off the first death by taking advantage of media attention, as well as the Great Hawkins, a guarded, sometimes violent man who has convinced Monica to give him a starring role as the new tightrope walker, and various other squabbling members of the circus, all of whom seem eager to stab each other in the back. Tensions increase further when it becomes obvious that Rivers and Hawkins have begun a romantic relationship, despite the fact that she is much older than he is, and when her young daughter is thrown out of boarding school and joins a circus act with the knife thrower... It’s amazing to think that Joan Crawford’s final two film roles were in British horror films (Berserk and Trog, which I will explore at a later date), while her last really great role is in Robert Aldrich’s slightly earlier 1962 film Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? That film costarred Crawford’s archnemesis, Bette Davis, who coincidentally also wound down her career with a number of truly fine (and some very over the top) performances in genre films: Hush… Hush, Sweet Charlotte (1964), The Nanny (1965), the completely bonkers The Anniversary (1968), Burnt Offerings (1976), and, my personal favorite, The Watcher in the Woods (1980) — among others — outdoing poor Crawford once and for all. But ironically, when I think of Crawford — and my favorite of her films — I think of circus horror, namely Tod Browning’s 1927 film The Unknown, where a very young Crawford stars alongside Lon Chaney in my favorite of all his performances. Berserk is admittedly a world away from The Unknown — that film being a sort of precursor to body horror as Chaney plays an allegedly armless knife thrower — and has far more in common with campy British films like Circus of Horrors (1960) and The Black Zoo (1963), though Berserk horrifyingly spends much of its running time filming the circus performances themselves, possibly in an effort to pad its weak plot. At first I found this really annoying, but by the time the film shoehorned in what is maybe the eight of these (a “death defying” elephant show), I was just weak with laughter. I think it’s probably all about your tolerance level and managing expectations, as Berserk is short on violence, short on gore, all but devoid of sex (though some is lightly implied) and nudity, and has a plot that barely goes through the motions. But it is not light on Joan Crawford — who prances around in a leotard and high heels while in her 60s — and for this, I have to love the film at least a little bit. I tend to be a bigger fan of actors than actresses from classic Hollywood, but I’ve always admired Crawford for her weighty presence, her seemingly innate sense of campiness, and the sheer force of will that made it seem like nothing was ever impossible, she just had to set her mind to something to make it possible. She may lack some of Bette Davis’s subtlety or range (sorry Joan), but there was really no one quite like her. Few actresses, then or now, could convincingly pull off a relationship with a much younger man (not that the bland Ty Hardin does her any favors) at 60+, and there’s a particularly great scene where she tells Hawkins that she’s not interested in anything more than a physical relationship and basically laughs in his face about the suggestion of love. For me, the film’s biggest disappointment is that — SPOILER ALERT — Crawford is not the killer. I generally prefer her at her most insane, as in the glorious film noir, Possessed (1947), but there is a (perhaps intentional?) riff on Crawford’s notorious reputation as a mother from hell. The film’s killer is, completely implausibly, Rivers’ sweet and innocent daughter (played by the wonderful Judy Geeson, who I am a little bit in love with thanks to her performances in films like Goodbye Gemini, 10 Rillington Place, and Fear in the Night), who is so desperate for her mother’s love that she snaps. Allegedly Christina Crawford was considered for the role (her mother refused), which is one of the best things I’ve ever heard. In general, the film is overwhelmed by female characters, despite some solid appearances from Michael Gough as Rivers’ hapless business partner and Robert Hardy as a Scotland Yard detective. Hardy, who seemed destined to play a figure of authority and had a presence in horror and thriller films from the period, such as The Spy Who Came in From the Cold (1965), Psychomania (1971), and Demons of the Mind (1972), nearly steals the film out from under Crawford. Nearly. One of my least favorite actress of all time, Diana Dors, is allowed to be particularly terrible here, and has the best death scene in the form of a magician’s trick, where she is accidentally sawed in half. Berserk is one of those films that I’m not sure I should recommend, but I have a strange compulsion to do so. You can find it on DVD, though anyone who expects a lot from their circus horror should keep in mind that this is a far cry from Freaks — brace yourself for the music number — but it’s really worth watching just for some of Crawford’s dialogue, like “I’m not running a charm school.” I love her and I’m not sorry.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Monthly Round Up: August 2016

Time for another monthly round-up! Here at Satanic Pandemonium, I've been continuing my British horror series and I just launched into films made in the '60s not under the particular umbrella of Hammer, Amicus, or Tigon, loosely organized by theme: for example, I'm just wrapping up a look at films made about psycho killers. 

Over at Diabolique, we've continued our American Gothic-themed summer season, which is winding down now. For it, I concluded The Mausoleum of All Hope and Desire: Southern Gothic Cinema, Part 3.
I also wrote about: Japan Cuts 2016: Burst City, Artist of Fasting, and The Sion Sono
Vinegar Syndrome's new Blu-ray release of Petey Wheatstraw: The Devil's Son-in-LawArrow's new Female Prisoner Scorpion: The Complete Collection box set
Kino's new Blu-ray of Fritz Lang's Destiny
Provocative Pessimism: Krzysztof Kieslowski's Dekalog

I'm also doing an in-depth series on the complete filmography of British director Ken Russell, which is continued on with The Debussy Film.

For the podcast I co-host, Daughters of Darknesswe explored mad science in American cinema (and beyond) with a double feature, Transplant Terror: From Mad Love to Mansion of the Doomed, and in in-depth look at Hungarian director Miklós Jancsó with the episode Private Vices, Public Virtues: Orgies and Excess in Miklós Jancsó and Beyond, which covers everything from the erotic films of Tinto Brass to Pasolini, Fellini, Hungarian politics, and more.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

NIGHT MUST FALL (1964)

Karel Reisz, 1964
Starring: Albert Finney, Mona Washbourne, Susan Hampshire, Sheila Hancock

When a hotel waiter-cum-serial killer, Danny (Albert Finney), impregnates a local maid (Sheila Hancock), he soon ingratiates himself in the household of her employer, one Mrs. Bramford (a perfect Mona Washbourne). He soon wins the old lady over with his brash charm and work; he is hired to spruce up her country home and moves in shortly after, coinciding with nearby police investigations of a missing woman whose body is believed to have been dumped in the river. Though Mrs. Bramford’s adult daughter (Susan Hampshire) takes an instant dislike to Danny, it doesn’t take much time before he has the attentions of all three women, which propels the household towards a violent conclusion.

Night Must Fall is a remake of the 1937 film starring Robert Montgomery, though both are actually adaptations of a 1935 play from Welsh writer Emlyn Williams, who also starred in the lead role during the original stage production (!). While I can’t help but see Reisz’s film as an offshoot of Psycho — whose 1960 release was followed by a swathe of imitators — it’s fascinating to think that the story’s real origins were in the ‘30s, coinciding with a more public understanding of the serial killer phenomenon; primarily in the United States, with such figures as the Cleveland Torso Murderer, Louisiana’s Robert Nixon, and Harry Powers (known as the West Virginia Bluebeard), while Germany’s infamous Peter Kurten had only been executed a few years prior. Night Must Fall actually has curious similarities to Psycho — the origins of both Norman Bates’ psychosis and Danny’s lies in childhood and complicated maternal relationships — but is, at least in some ways, a more fascinating tale as it refuses to explain away Danny’s madness in the final frames of the film. Even Michael Powell’s Peeping Tom (also 1960) did not even risk this kind of ambiguity.

And unlike the male protagonists of Psycho, Peeping Tom, or William Wyler’s The Collector (1964), Albert Finney’s Danny is a sexually charismatic figure, one who is able to successfully manipulate and seduce the film’s female characters, who are powerless to stop him even when they know he is up to no good. In this sense, he is far more like the unhinged, violent protagonists of film noir — such as Bogart in films like Dark Passage and The Two Mrs. Carrolls, Michael Redgrave in Secret Beyond the Door, Lawrence Tierney in Born to Kill, and Robert Ryan in basically everything — than he is like the cinematic killers of the ‘60s. Finney’s performance in this film is absolutely mind-blowing and it’s baffling to think why critics hated the film so much upon its release. In my mind, he’s always been more of a theater actor, which he certainly was during roughly the first two decades of his career, but if Night Must Fall isn’t proof of his talent, I don’t know what is.

Genuinely creepy in parts — thanks in part to some beautiful cinematography from Freddie Francis, who I’ve already written about extensively throughout my British horror series — this goes much further than a lot of the other psycho killer films of the period without showing any actual blood or violence. There is the suggestion of a headless body fished from the river, a head in a hatbox that Danny keeps as a trophy and occasionally gloats over, and the offscreen murder of old Mrs. Bramson, but the film’s most disturbing scene occurs when the stuffy old matron finally fulfills his wish and plays a game of “stern mother and naughty little boy” with him — a game of hide and seek with the kind of latent sadism and erotic undercurrent that would appear in Robert Altman’s slightly later The Cold Day in the Park (1969). Her refusal to continue the game is what finally breaks his hold on reality.

Part of what makes Night Must Fall such a masterful thriller, in my opinion, is that even though Reisz is upfront about the fact that Danny is a murderer from the opening frames (which the original film is not), it keeps you guessing about where things will end up and, also thanks to Finney’s performance, it’s not really clear just how unhinged Danny is until the film’s final moments. And, refreshingly, he is far from the only character with psychological issues, though many of these are only hinted at or not fully explored. The sense of class-based, economic antagonism — which appears throughout many British horror films of the ‘60s and early ‘70s — adds a palpable sense of tension; in an interesting twist, it’s reported that Mrs. Bramson herself was a servant as a girl and married well above her station. Curiously (SPOILER), she spends the majority of the film in a wheelchair, but jumps out of it moments before her death, adding to the sense that all is not quite right in the Bramford home.

Though it’s received a lot of criticism for being overwrought or even campy, I think Night Must Fall is perfect if you accept it for what it is: a domestic melodrama about a psychopath, rather than an outright horror film or serial killer thriller (and I admittedly don’t ascribe ascendency to any one of the three). Certainly, it should appeal to fans of any of the above, and anyone who enjoys Albert Finney owes it to him to see this at least once. Embarrassingly, it doesn’t have a proper DVD or Blu-ray release, and is only available as part of the Warner Archive collection, though, as always, I’m hoping a special edition Blu-ray release is on the way with a commentary track from Finney himself.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

THE COLLECTOR

William Wyler, 1965
Starring: Terence Stamp, Samantha Eggar

Freddie, a lonely young lepidopterist, finally decides to pursue the distance object of his affections, an art student named Miranda, after winning a sizable lottery pool at work, which allows him to retire and purchase a home in country. Courting Miranda involves stalking her, memorizing her schedule, and then kidnapping her with the use of chloroform. She wakes up in a basement shelter hidden behind Freddie’s home to find that he is in love with her and hopes she will come to return his affections. Freddie is not violent with her and she hopes to gain his trust in order to escape, faking an illness, and later attempting to seduce him, though all of it is in vain. Miranda begins to realize that he will never allow her to escape and she will probably die in captivity…

Based on John Fowles’ novel of the same name, this is technically an American-British coproduction, but I’ve included it as part of my lengthy British horror series, because it was shot in England and with English actors. Famously, the wonderful William Wyler gave up The Sound of Music for the chance to direct this film, his only title that could really be described as a horror film or thriller, and it is certainly a masterpiece in an already rich and dazzling career. With The Collector, Wyler actually subverted the very romantic tropes — which he used in a variety of flexible ways — that made him famous in films like Jezebel, Wuthering Heights, Roman Holiday, How to Steal a Million, and even Funny Girl.

As Hannibal Lector would tell Clarice Starling decades later in The Silence of the Lambs, “We begin by coveting what we see every day.” And though The Collector exists seemingly on a different planet than the British horror films produced by Hammer, Amicus, or Tigon — it has far more in common with Michael Powell’s Peeping Tom — it is still rife with subtle themes of class division and cultural tension that appears as a subtext in many of the country’s genre films of the late ‘60s and ‘70s. There is the sense that Freddie wants to possess Miranda — who he watched grow up, as they are from the same home town — because she represents all the things he did not have. Strangely, he never attempts any sexual violence and her attempts to seduce him are met with outright disgust; her value seems to be more as a social and economic possession.

There is also a connection to Lolita (published in 1955, just eight years before Fowles’ novel) in the sense that The Collector is all about a man preserving and sustaining an impossible romantic fantasy; he’s not consumed by remembering a love lost, but a love that never really existed in the first place. Like Humbert Humbert, Freddie is perhaps monstrous and is certainly strange, but he’s fundamentally sympathetic, even likable. Lepidoptery is of course another connection between Nabokov, Lolita, and The Collector; like one of Freddie’s butterflies pinned in a glass case, he can only truly appreciate beauty in a fixed form, as an immobile object over which he has absolute control.

This is not to say that Wyler devalues Freddie’s love for Miranda in any way, despite his strangeness. Stamp, who didn’t think he was right for the role, but who was eager to work with Wyler nonetheless, is perfectly cast against type as the sensitive, if disturbed romantic hero. His unusual handsomeness and often dreamy expression work far more effectively than someone like Anthony Perkins — who Stamp apparently thought was going to win the role — though of course I’m biased. I would watch Terence Stamp watching paint dry and be riveted. The more disturbing aspects of Freddie’s character are established early on, thanks to a lengthy stalking ritual that takes up much of the first part of the film and a very subtle performance from Stamp. Additionally, Wyler’s refuses to share Freddie’s backstory, making him something of a figure of mystery and unpredictability.

Admittedly, I find Eggar repellent as an actress, though this works dramatically in Wyler’s favor; my dream script change of a happy ending — where Miranda realizes she does love Freddie and doesn’t want to return to her mundane normal life — would only have worked with Julie Christie, who was originally considered a shoo-in for the role. Stamp was ordered to remain cold and aloof from the actress throughout the shooting schedule and her sense of unease and distrust is palpable. To make matters worse for Eggar, she had rejected Stamp’s romantic overtures in the past and was fired immediately after production on The Collector began; she was only rehired and allowed to return, apparently, after agreeing to work with an acting coach.

The best (or worst, depending on your perspective) thing about this film — at least from where I’m sitting — is that the combined talents of Wyler and Stamp make it seem feasible that Miranda will come to return his love. Of course, this would be difficult at best, but something similar happens in films with complicated issues of consent like Kidnapped Coed, The Night Porter, Straight on Till Morning, and to a different degree, some of Walerian Borowczyk’s efforts like The Beast, where a victim falls for a perpetrator, or a rape turns into an act of mutual pleasure. In some ways, this is the ultimate expression of romantic fantasy taken to a particular extreme, and it’s easy to read it as a darker evolution of fairy tale themes, where a prince bestows a lifesaving kiss on a cursed, sleeping princess (obviously without her knowledge or consent), and this act alone ensures her love and devotion. Personally, I much prefer The Collector to Sleeping Beauty or Snow White and the Seven Dwarves.

Of course, The Collector comes with the highest possible recommendation, thanks to the combined talents of Wyler, Stamp, and Fowles. Pick it up on Blu-ray, though I’m desperately hoping it will get the special edition restoration treatment it so richly deserves. The film was supposed to be shot in black and white, but Wyler changed to an oddly dark, subdued use of Technicolor, allegedly because of Eggar’s red hair, which means someone should really pull out all the stops for a high definition restoration. While this fictional person is at it, I’m also dying to see the original three-hour cut, which Wyler was forced to slim down for the theatrical release. I’m sure this additional footage is lost, but a girl can hope.