Directed by Michael Powell
Written by Leo Marks
Michael Powell (Theatre)
Repeat viewing/Netflix rental
One of 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die
Michael Powell’s twisted psychological thriller ruined his career but has stood the test of time.
From the first frame, we are witnesses to murder. Immediately thereafter we learn that cameraman Mark Lewis (Carl Boehm) is the culprit. He enjoys filming the death throes of his victims and is one sick puppy.
Mark works for a film studio but spends his off hours taking naughty pictures of naughtier models. He picks his victims from this class. At home, he becomes friendly with one of his tenants, young and earnest Helen Stephens (Anna Massey). He confides his traumatic childhood to her and they fall in love. But Mark is too far gone to be redeemed by love. With Moira Shearer as one of the victims.
Only a true cinemaphile could have made this movie. It is less a thriller (the mystery is almost an afterthought) than an exploration of the acts of movie-making and movie-watching. The audience becomes a voyeur and thus implicated in the heinous acts of the anti-hero. This is made more powerful by the sympathy that Powell shows for him. The use of color is more muted than in other films by the Archers but just as powerful. Recommended.
It was not until I listened to the commentary that I realized that Anna Massey was Raymond Massey’s daughter!