Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, February 20, 2014


Pamela Franklin and Stephen Boyd
THE THIRD SECRET (1964). Director: Charles Crichton.

"Look around the world, doctor. What's so special about madness? What's so special about murder?" 

Alex Stedman (Stephen Boyd of Fantastic Voyage), an American TV personality working in London, refuses to believe that his friend and psychiatrist Leo Whitset (Peter Copley) committed suicide. Whitset had helped Alex get over the death of his young daughter, and the latter feels that suicide would go against everything the man believed in. Stedman's belief that Whitset's death had to be homicide is shared by the latter's daughter, Catherine (Pamela Franklin), who reminds Alex of his own daughter and helps him to bond with her. Alex thinks the killer must be one of Whitset's patients, and he goes to see each of them: neurotic art dealer and artist Alfred (an unrecognizable and excellent Richard Attenborough of 10 Rillington Place); lonely Ann (Diane Cilento), with whom he sleeps; and Sir Frederick (Jack Hawkins), who has a secret buried in his past. The "third secret" -- the real truth -- is unveiled at the climax. Boyd gives an excellent performance in this, as does Pamela Franklin [The Nanny], Cilento [The Wicker Man], and Hawkins [She Played with Fire], but the movie never really catches fire, and the solution seems fairly obvious from the first. Judi Dench has a small role as Attenborough's assistant.

Verdict: Somewhat intriguing, but a little too gloomy and flaccid. **1/2.

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