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

Thursday, May 30, 2013


Barbara Parkins and Barbara Stanwyck
A TASTE OF EVIL (1971 telefilm). Director: John Llewellyn Moxey.

After starring in the mediocre The House that Would Not Die, Barbara Stanwyck appeared in a second ABC "Movie of the Week" for producer Aaron Spelling, and this time the results are more felicitous. Susan (Barbara Parkins) was raped as a child by an unknown assailant on the grounds of her family estate. After years of therapy in Europe she returns home to her mother, Miriam (Barbara Stanwyck), the strange handyman John (Arthur O'Connell), her uncle and now stepfather Howard (William Windom) and sympathetic Dr. Lomas (Roddy McDowall). It isn't long before her shadowy memories of the assault begin to plague her, and she also keeps seeing the corpse of Uncle Howard, whom she suspects of the rape, in various places -- the trouble is that Howard is alive. A Taste of Evil has a tricky screenplay by Jimmy Sangster (The Nanny, Hysteria, Scream of Fear etc.) that contains some surprises, and good performances from the entire cast. Without giving too much away, it is safe to say that Stanwyck offers a chilling portrait of one of the worst mothers who ever existed on celluloid. She doesn't gnash the scenery as lesser actresses would do, but wisely underplays and is that much more memorable and formidable, making this one of her better latter-day assignments. Some people see this as a remake of the Sangster-written Scream of Fear, but despite similarities the movies are quite different.

Verdict: Interesting enough on its own terms but Stanwyck really makes it worth watching. ***.

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