Tuesday, March 28, 2017
Was This Otto Preminger's Answer To Roman Polanski's "Repulsion???????????????"
This question kept going through my mind, as I watched "Bunny Lake Is Missing," last night. My beloved had taped it awhile ago, and wanted to watch it, so last night was as good as any. Like 'Jessica,' I had heard of the film for years--I remember when it first came out--but had never seen it. So, I was naturally curious.
What is interesting, regarding "Repulsion," is that both films were released in the United States a day apart. Polanski's released on October 2, 1965, and Preminger's the next day. So, the question is certainly valid.
More interesting, especially to me, was that the film is based on a novel (which I have never read, but would like to, as it seems to be very different from the film!!!!!!!!) by Merriam Modell, who wrote under the pseudonym, Evelyn Piper. Who happens to have been the author of another childhood nightmare of mine, and a film also made in 1965--"The Nanny." Obviously, 1965 was a big year for Modell/Piper. She was really raking it in.
I bet she did not like the film of 'Bunny Lake'. Despite the setting of "Swinging Sixties London," the city does not seem to swing as much as Preminger would have thought. The performances are all made-for-TV schlock, though Carol Lynley does her Method best in the role of Ann, while Keir Dullea (to whom Noel Coward, on the set, said, to the actor, "'Keir Dullea', gone tomorrow!!!!!!!!!!" I wonder what he said to Preminger, who was one of Hollywood's most despised directors?????) Noel Coward camps it up as a lecherous landlord--and the notion of him being straight, let alone coming on to Carol Lynley, is ridiculous--but the real scene stealer in the film is the dog carried around, named Samantha. Obviously, she and Preminger did not hit it off, because Samantha never looks happy on camera, and is limited to only two scenes. Well she had two egotists--the director and Noel Coward--to deal with, and both must have realized she was walking away with the film! While Keir Dullea almost justifies Coward's remark, by going bug-eyed, whenever he is required to act psychotic!!!!!!!!!!!!
The film does manage to achieve an eerie, Gothic atmosphere, especially the scene with Lynley in the Barry Elder Doll Museum, in Hammersmith, and the hospital chase scene, shot at night, complete with a playground that both actors make good use of. This last was the "Frogmore End" house in the film, and turned out to have been owned by Daphne Du Maurier's father, Sir Gerald Du Maurier. Was Daphne still alive, then? If she was, she should have muscled in on the screenplay. It might have improved things.
It starts out as a kidnapping that one suspects is all in Ann's (Carol Lynley) mind. Does the child, Bunny, actually exist? Do we even care? Then, amid fancy visuals, the story is reduced to incest and psychosis.
The latter two elements also figured in another film released that year, "Who Killed Teddy Bear?," which has got to be seen for Sal Mineo masturbating to Juliet Prowse, and--get this--Elaine Stritch as a victimized lesbian! Much more lively than 'Bunny Lake.' But I have to wonder, what was going on at that time? I guess filmmakers were trying to push envelope, but they were not really successful until 1967.
Because, in 1965, along came a film that knocked these flat on their backs.
I am talking, of course, about "The Sound Of Music." 'Nuff said!!!!!!!!!!!!