Sunday, October 27, 2013
The Collector (1965)
Running Time: 119 minutes
Directed By: William Wyler
Written By: John Kohn, Stanley Mann, Terry Southern, from novel by John Fowles
Main Cast: Terence Stamp, Samantha Eggar
Click here to view the trailer
FRIGHTFEST 2013: NIGHT THREE
It was an anonymous poster who came to the blog and said "I recommend William Wyler's The Collector for Frightfest" and it was faithful Ray who seconded the nomination. While I wouldn't go so far as to call "The Collector" an out and out horror movie, I am grateful for their insistence that I watch it!
The film has two stars and really only three (including the neighbor) notable cast members, with everyone else playing the role of extra or glorified extra (that is, extra with a line or two). The film's main is Frederick Clegg (Stamp), an amateur entomologist, professional bank teller and socially awkward misfit, whom, upon the film's opening, is purchasing a house in a secluded area. If you're wondering where Freddie has gotten the money to purchase this house, he's apparently just won a lottery - something called "football pools", which is apparently exclusive to England, where the film is set. The winnings also give Freddie the means to carry out his master plan: kidnapping a girl. He selects a very specific girl, Miranda (Eggar), a girl that he used to ride the bus with at school and one who never gave him the time of day. He stalks her in his van and when the time is right, uses a chloroform soaked rag to render her unconscious, taking her back to his new house, which incidentally is equipped with a sound proof cellar. Arriving back at his place, we learn that he's gone to a lot of trouble, tidying up the cellar and making it look like a small apartment, complete with a whole new wardrobe of clothes, that he hopes will fit her. He tells her that he loves her, that he's always loved her and that his hopes in kidnapping her being that she will fall in love with him. He makes a deal with her: If she doesn't try to escape, if she talks to him (actually converses with him) and if she promises to eat the meals he brings her, he'll let her go in four weeks. The film is filled with suspenseful climax cues and some great back & forth between the prisoner and her captor.
This film just goes to show you that there are thousands of cinematic gems out there, just waiting to be consumed by the movie lover. I hadn't even heard of this picture before it was suggested to me by the anonymous poster, but now I've heard of it and loved it! So I guess a hearty "thank you" to the poster that suggested the film is in order: Thank you!
Everything was just perfect, from beginning to end, they never took a misstep that I disapproved of and even the ending was just perfect. Let's face it, there were several choices on how to end this movie. 1) You have the girl escape to the authorities, report Clegg, thus seeing him arrested. I kind of thought this was where they were headed, as there was some minimal narration that came at the beginning and end and I kind of thought we were listening to Clegg's story from his padded cell. 2) Have the girl actually fall in love with him. Again, this is something I thought they were heading for and am so glad they didn't do. How awful would that have been? I guess those were really the only two foreseeable options, as the third would be having the girl die and having Clegg succeed, which is what happened. However, the way it all went down was just perfect. You couldn't have Clegg just kill Miranda, because he loved her. So she's killed when she's left to starve and freeze in the cellar, while Clegg is at the hospital, getting treated for a wound she inflicts on him. And then the cherry on top, having the film's ultimate end be Clegg stalking another girl, preparing to go through the cycle all over again.
Here's the question though: Whose side are we supposed to be on? Am I the only one who found myself urging the nosy neighbor to JUST LEAVE, before the water came rushing down the stairs - the water that Miranda had forced on with her big toe, hoping to draw the attention of whomever came to visit Clegg? I certainly wasn't urging the neighbor to JUST STAY A LITTLE LONGER, while the water made it's way to his line of vision. I think it was a movie where I didn't care so much about the outcomes of the characters, as much as I just wanted to see all of the pieces fit together to make for a really good movie. As long as Miranda is tied up and helpless, this movie continues and I get to bask in it for a little while longer, to see a few more suspenseful pieces and to see a little more brilliance from Terence Stamp. I have to say, speaking of Stamp, I loved the casting choices and the fact that there were really only two cast members. I'm a sucker for a film that could easily be a stage play, though, ironically, I've never seen a live stage play. One last thought and if this thought is a popular one, I promise I've seen it nowhere: Is there some sort of connection between this movie and "The Silence of the Lambs"? I'm talking about the butterfly/moth stuff, not just the obvious "guy holds a girl captive" thing. The butterfly thing in both films, as well as the obvious parallels between the plot lines just seemed odd to me, that's all. Anyway, damn fine film!
RATING: 8.5/10 I can't go whole hog and I really don't know why. I think it's like that first date with a girl you really like and you really don't want to end up in bed at the end of the night, because you don't want to rush things and end up screwing something up. Doesn't matter though, great movie - end of story.
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