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

Thursday, January 7, 2016


James Olson and Stefanie Powers
CRESCENDO (1970). Director: Alan Gibson.

Susan Roberts (Stefanie Powers) is writing her thesis for a masters degree in music and her subject is a deceased modern composer. She arrives at his estate to do research for several weeks where she is greeted by his widow, Danielle (Margaretta Scott), and her crippled son, Georges (James Olson). There's also a French maid named Lillianne (Jane Lapotaire), who provides special services for Georges, and a brusque handyman named Carter (Joss Ackland). Although Georges is in a wheelchair, Susan is sure there is someone else walking about the estate and playing music at night. Just when you're wondering if this is a thriller or not, someone finally gets stabbed in the pool ... Crescendo holds the attention and keeps the viewer in suspense throughout, but the solution is mind-bogglingly far-fetched, another weird Hammer Films concoction co-scripted by the prolific Jimmy Sangster. The acting is quite good, with Olson [The Andromeda Strain] proving a major talent, and Lapotaire especially vivid as the calculating maid, but the others are also effective. Powers also had a big part in Die, Die, My Darling, another Hammer thriller. Olson had a very busy career, and Alan Gibson also directed a few horror films and the PBS TV series The Charmer

Verdict: Generally unpredictable, if a little too odd for its own good. **1/2 out of 4.


angelman66 said...

Hi Bill - I also saw this recently and thought it had a slow start, but then was a pretty satisfying thriller, as you noted. Loved seeing James Olson with a meaty leading role..he usually plays villainous supporting characters (very well), and I do love Stefanie Powers. Not a perfect movie, by any means, but I, like you, really appreciate anything in the Hammer film milieu...

William said...

I certainly do, and Olson was a very good actor; he and the "Girl from UNCLE" made a good team.