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

Thursday, March 16, 2017

PSYCHE 59

Dysfunctional marriage: Curt Jurgens and Patricia Neal
PSYCHE 59 (1964). Director: Alexander Singer.

"Someone has to stop loving somewhere along the line -- otherwise it's like committing suicide." -- Alison

"All the men I knew have either gotten married or gone queer -- what's going on in this country?" -- Robin

Alison Crawford (Patricia Neal) has been psychosomatically blind since a traumatic incident which she doesn't recall. Considering that the audience is clued in almost from the first that something went on between Alison's husband, Eric (Curt Jurgens) -- a real pig -- and her younger sister, Robin (Samantha Eggar), it doesn't take much to figure out what Alison saw. So much for suspense over the final revelation. Robin has recently broken up with her husband, so she comes to stay with Alison and Eric, something the latter isn't thrilled by -- or is he? Then there's Eric's friend, Paul (Ian Bannen of From Beyond the Grave), who is in love with Robin, and her strange mother-in-law, Mrs. Crawford (Beatrix Lehmann). If this all sounds interesting, be warned that it isn't. Despite the hysterical blindness, the infidelity and betrayal, and god knows what else, the film is actually quite boring until the last couple of minutes -- too little, too late. The acting is good but the characters are so one-dimensional that not even the performances can bring the people fully to life. Maybe Tennessee Williams could have done something with these dysfunctional individuals, or perhaps the producers should have turned it into a wild horror movie with someone -- Pat Neal, maybe? -- wielding an ax on hubby. But despite some interesting elements, this just never jells or amounts to anything but a waste of ninety minutes. It's a shame, because Neal [Diplomatic Courier] is especially fine in this, expertly delineating her character's blindness. While his character is not at all likable, Jurgens' portrayal of the husband, a virile but perhaps frightened man on the cusp of fifty, might have been made somewhat sympathetic, but the part is too under-written for that. Walter Lassally's cinematography is excellent, and there's some nice music by Kenneth V. Jones. Alexander Singer also directed A Cold Wind in August. He simply fails to imbue this film with enough dramatic tension.

Verdict: . **.

2 comments:

angelman66 said...

Hi Bill, I'm a big Patricia Neal fan, so I will check this out. Just bought a DVD copy of The Fountainhead, which I thought was extraordinary...good adaptation of the book. Patricia Neal was married to my favorite children's book author, Roald Dahl!!
-Chris

William said...

Odd that Neal went from handsome Gary Cooper to the rather homely Dahl -- sadly they did not have a happy marriage although it lasted thirty years. Neal was great in "The Fountainhead!"