my Movie

Movie Details

Title:   Bunny Lake is Missing
Director:   Otto Preminger
Year:   1965
Genre:   Psychological Thriller
Times Seen:   1
Last Seen:   08.28.06

Other Movies Seen By This Director (1)
- Whirlpool

Notes History
Date Viewed Venue Note
08.28.06Music Monday The Zombies appear on TV in the background for one scene in this movie so Kier-La played it Music Monday. I am really glad! Personally, although I find the documentaries interesting, I most enjoy when she programs a fiction film that just happens to involve music (like Candy). It doesn't so much matter how much music's in it because I trust her programming. I know it already sort of exists with Weird Wednesday and I'm definitely sure it wouldn't sell very well but in a perfect world I'd love it if the alamo picked a time slot every week and rotated between the programmers for like potpouri... so you know the first tuesday night of every month is Tim's pick... any genre, any time, any movie... but he gets to pick it and they play it and if it sucks we get to yell at him but if it's awesome then alright. Second tueday Lars, Third Kier-La, Fourth Henri... I guess exactly like the staff picks at a video store... and also exactly like what all of them do on a grand scale with the alamo programming in whole... ok never mind that is a horrible idea. I just wished they played more reperatory screenings I guess.

Anyway, this movie. It's good! It's funny because I'm sure in it's day it hadn't much been seen before and maybe was even considered a Psycho knock-off a little bit but nowadays the premise is so cliche that in the beginning I was really hoping it would prove to be different in some way. A woman reports that her four year old daughter is missing, yet she cannot prove her child's existence because someone has also stolen all of young Bunny Lake's things and police dude Laurence Olivier has to find out if the little girl exists or if this woman is just bonkers. What's interesting about this movie for me is that it starts off so familiar, then gets really kind of perverse and dark and awesome... but then ends up quite familiar again. So I'll need to spoil how the movie ends from here on out... if you don't feel like reading, my final word is that I liked it quite a bit, it got a theater full of people to gasp out loud at one particular point, and it's shot in black and white scope which is awesome... I love black and white scope... hard to make a movie look better than in black and white scope.

So... there's a red herring in the form of Noel Coward who plays this landlord with a melodious voice... he is so awesome because he's a total perv... has the Marquis de Sade's skull and whip in his place and asks an investigating cop to swat him with it. Plus he makes advances on the very hot leading is-she-crazy lady in such an old-man arrogant way that is just hilarious. I almost wished it was he who took the kid just to see more of him acting really really creepy. It's also great because in his first scene he's kind of kooky but ultimately innocent, then when he next appears he's very dark and genuinely creepy, but then when we see him again after it's fairly obvious that he didn't snatch the brat, he become really absurd and funny again. It's a pretty subtle treatment of character there in the middle and I think Coward does a great job acting it and Preminger a great job capturing it.

I should also say that Olivier does a good job playing the thankless role of the guy the audience follows... but he always plays it smart and with charm and yadda yadda yadda come on it's friggin Olivier... like he's gonna suck?

Next up is the really creepy turn of Kier Dullea (who plays the woman's brother) turning psycho when she finally finds actual proof of her daughter's existence. It's in the form of a doll which she retrieves from a repair shop. He becomes nuts on a dime and torches the doll to a sad burnt plastic husk. The thing is though, there's a great shot where he sets the doll aflame and we zoom in close on his face with the fire lighting him and his pupils are completely dialated. REALLY creepy in a subtle way.

Plus Dullea and the main actress (guess I have to finally look up her name... Carol Lynley) actually look alike... but they play certain scenes like there was a total incest thing going on when they were kids... and maybe even after they grew up.

Unfortunately, something happens with crazy Dullea that I hate and always confuses me. Are all crazy people completely sane until the twist and then completely nuts? If she can bait him just by calling him stevie and playing children's games at the end, how in the hell can this guy be holding down a successfully job, and carrying out this complicated acting job of being concerned and playing the cops while he keeps the kid in his trunk. That makes no sense to me. Crazy people are crazy... they don't act normally... that's WHY they're crazy. This seems to happen a lot in movies... and it's quickly rising to the top ranks of my movie pet peeves, along with "computer experts" hitting the "enhance" key to make a pixellated zoomed-in picture magically res-up and be readable and always hearing the thunder exactly when the lightning flashes. Man do those things bug me...

So... by the end of this movie, she's baiting Dullea away from killing her daughter by playing children's games with him... right because he's so crazy that he forgets all about the girl as long as he's playing blind man's bluff... and she keeps him occupied until the cops show up. But you know... I think she is pretty nuts too though, because she knew about him and still decided to be around him... and also probably got it on with him... so maybe that gives the ending a little darker edge to it, but still... I'm sure in 1965 it was like a water cooler topic oooh that guy's psycho! he's gotta twisted nerve but today it's pretty yawn-worthy.

HOWEVER, I really liked this movie. Preminger was in top form if you ask me... wonderful photography, great use of handheld and it really showed off London (and the woman who plays the school principal or whatever was also in Peeping Tom and Frenzy) and the acting was great (even if the story called for 110% crazy from Dullea, everything up to that point from him was great), music... Saul Bass credits sequence... and like I said, the whole theater did that jump/gasp thing at one point in the film. That's a pretty clear indication that it had everyone engaged... Well worth watching, even with the familiar premise.
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