Friday, June 13, 2008


Anthony Perkins, playing a slightly less crazy variation on Norman Bates, is a young man just released from an institution; he burned down his aunt's house when he was 15, causing her accidental death. He is placed in a small town and gets work at a chemical plant; his parole officer warns him about the dangers of an overactive fantasy life, but soon Perkins is pretending to himself that he's a CIA agent on the trail of a plot to poison the town's water supply. He develops a crush on high-school senior Tuesday Weld and gets her to believe his story. However, the innocent-seeming Weld actually has a sociopathic bent that put Perkins's problems in the shade. For a while, it seems like the pair will turn into a modern-day Bonnie and Clyde, but the film's final twists take it in a different direction to a BODY HEAT-like ending. This film from first-time director Noel Black is a small masterpiece of black comedy; the story has a distinct noir feel, though the style isn't noir at all. Perkins and Weld have a remarkable chemistry (which carried over to their later film PLAY IT AS IT LAYS, less successful but still worth seeing) and both give excellent performances. Both are also attractive--they could easily have been the leads in a quirky romantic comedy--and Weld is an utter knockout, both in looks and talent. It's a damned shame her career never quite fulfilled its early promise. The same could be said about director Black who followed this up with the poorly-received COVER ME BABE, which I'll review tomorrow, and then turned to TV movies. B-movie queen Beverly Garland is very good as Weld's bitch of a mother, and you'll recognize John Randolph (the parole officer) and Dick O'Neill (Perkins' boss) from lots of TV supporting roles. A must-see. [DVD]

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