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

Thursday, May 23, 2013


THE SCREAMING WOMAN (1972 telefilm). Director: Jack Smight.

Wealthy widow Laura Wynant (Olivia de Havilland) has just returned from a stay in a sanitarium when she encounters a strange little dog while out walking on her property, and then hears a woman calling for help from below the ground. Laura tries to get her family, staff and police to take her seriously, but no one will believe her, thinking she's "nuts," and when they finally go out to investigate, hear nothing. In spite of this Laura is determined to free the poor buried woman before she dies, and when she can't do it herself tries to enlist the aid of some neighbors, one of whom knows more about the situation than she suspects ... The Screaming Woman is based on a short story by Ray Bradbury which was adapted [probably more than once] for the infamous EC comics back in the fifties. [I believe in the original story the protagonist is a child given to tall tales.] This version is intriguing, although it runs out of gas long before the expected finale. Another problem is that the audience knows all along that Laura isn't imagining things because we're shown the woman under the ground at the beginning. Along with de Havilland there are some other familiar faces, including Ed Nelson as a neighbor, Walter Pidgeon as Laura's doctor, Charles Drake as another embittered neighbor, and Lonny Chapman as the police sergeant. Charles Robinson is Laura's son; Laraine Stephens is his hateful wife; and Alexandra Hay is a young woman who is friends with Nelson. This was presented as an ABC "Movie of the Week." Miss de Havilland [spelled DeHavilland in the credits] is adequate but then this is not exactly The Heiress.

Verdict: Acceptable TV thriller. **1/2.

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