You can see why the knives were out for Michael Powell, already a veteran of masterpieces such as ‘The Red Shoes’, when he released this still-shocking essay on childhood trauma, voyeurism and murder in 1960 – even if its sly avoidance of gore is comparable to Hitchcock’s ‘Psycho’ of the same year. With this tale of Mark (Carl Böhm), a loner, film assistant and porn photographer, Powell managed to offend guardians of decency with scenes of killings, semi-nudity and easy chat among prostitutes. But more troubling, original and daring are the film’s suggestions that we, the audience, and he, as part of the film industry (of which the film is a comic satire), are complicit in seedy invasions of privacy for entertainment and that filmmakers are predatory, even life-sucking creatures. The film’s psychological underpinnings (Mark as a victim of his father’s experiments) feel a little dated, if appropriately mid-century, but most wondrous in this restoration are the film’s colours, especially the scenes at night around Charlotte Street and those with Moira Shearer at Pinewood.
Friday November 19 2010
Cast and crew
Karl Böhm Anna Massey Maxine Audley Moira Shearer Esmond Knight Michael Goodliffe Shirley Anne Field Brenda Bruce