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

Thursday, March 21, 2013


Shirley Knight and Grant Williams
THE COUCH (1962). Director: Owen Crump.

Charles Campbell (Grant Williams), psychiatric patient and ex-con, phones a police lieutenant (Simon Scott) and tells him he is going to kill someone exactly at 7 PM that evening -- and he does, more than once. Is there method to his madness? Campbell is dating Terry (Shirley Knight) -- the niece of his doctor (Onslow Stevens of House of Dracula) -- who also works as the shrink's receptionist, and boards in the home of the upbeat Mrs. Quimby (Hope Summers) and her nubile daughter Jean (Anne Helm). Robert Bloch scripted this post-Psycho "thriller" from an idea by Blake Edwards and director Crump but the results are unimpressive. Even though we know who the culprit is and what he'll do from the first (although there are still some minor surprises on that score), there are still plenty of opportunities for suspense, absolutely none of which are exploited by Crump, whose direction is generally uninspired to say the least. Frank Perkins' score is often quirky and interesting, but it does little to help the picture. On the plus side are the performances, with an especially notable Williams (The Incredible Shrinking Man) making a favorable impression, as does Knight. Another nifty element is that eerie old estate that is visited by the main couple while they're on a date. The amusing post script is left to Hope Summers, who also scores as the sunny landlady who gets quite a shock at the finale. This is another movie that was in some ways influenced by Agatha Christie's classic "The A.B.C. Murders." Crump mostly directed documentaries and TV shows; this was his only American theatrical film.

Verdict: Not a total waste but hardly that memorable. **1/2.

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