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

Thursday, May 5, 2016


Pamela Franklin and Clare Kelly
AND SOON THE DARKNESS (1970). Director: Robert Fuest.

Two young British women, Jane (Pamela Franklin of The Third Secret) and Kathy (Michele Doutrice) are on a bicycle trip through the countryside of France. Kathy is intrigued by a handsome stranger at one cafe, and refuses to go any further with the less-free-spirited Jane; the two have a fight and go their separate ways. Still, when Kathy disappears Jane tries to surmount the language barrier and find out what happened to her friend. To make matters worse, she learns that a young woman was murdered in this town two years earlier and her killer was never caught. Suspects for her disappearance and the earlier murder include the aforementioned stranger, Paul (Sandor Eles of The Evil of Frankenstein), who claims to be working for the Surete; a couple, the Lassals (Hana Maria Pravda and Claude Bertrand) who run an inn; a mentally-disturbed veteran; a British schoolteacher (Clare Kelley); and others. John Nettleton appears as a sympathetic Gendarme. And Soon the Darkness is not without flaws -- to create suspicion in the audience's mind over anyone and everyone, some of the characters behave much more weirdly than they might have -- but it is a very creepy and intensely suspenseful film that has good performances (although Franklin underplays too much), an effective score by Laurie Johnson (with the exception of the awful opening theme), and excellent widescreen photography of lonely, sinister vistas by Ian Wilson. There's a wonderfully macabre sequence involving a closet and a corpse late in the picture. Jane never asks Paul for his I.D. Very well directed by Robert Fuest [Dr. Phibes Rises Again]. Remade in 2010.

Verdict: Handsome and disturbing thriller. ***.

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