Sunday, May 06, 2007

Experiment in Terror (1962)

Well-mounted, sturdy crime thriller, made at the point when the genre had long since passed through its anti-hero noir iterations and was thriving as a place where square-jawed, stout-hearted cops could triumph over evil again and again; while I prefer my crime thrillers with more ambiguity and moral blurriness, I'll admit that sometimes it's satisfying just to see the wicked get theirs. It helps that Glenn Ford is around as the conscience of the law -- if you need a guy to play square-jawed and stout-hearted, you can't do much better than Glenn Ford. The rest of the cast is good, too -- Ross Martin, seen mostly in shadow, makes for a memorable psycho while Lee Remick does fine as a woman who's scared but not too scared find ways to do the right thing as a way to extricate herself from the situation. The screenplay is thus elevated beyond its programmer status by solid acting, a welcome modicum of intelligence and unfussy, professional direction by Blake Edwards. Edwards knows when to amp up the menace and darkness (note the Expressionistic lighting in the abandoned factory near film's end), but he also knows that occasionally daylight fright can be just as effective. Also: The climax occurs during a SF Giants-LA Dodgers night game, which was a big treat for an old-school baseball fan (and longtime Dodgers fan) such as myself. Don Drysdale, we salute you!

Grade: B


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