I Saw A Film!

Poor Francois Dorleac dead at 25 in a car accident just as her career was about to hit the stratosphere. Here she is as a cute barefoot beach bum alongside the legendary, and quite weird Donald Pleasance as they are overtaken, in their isolated castle (and isolated love-though there’s something of a casual threesome actually), by thug-on-the-run Dickey, played by the classic radio, TV and movie heavy Lionel Stander–famous for his gravel voice and leathery countenance (he also did a stint at University of North Carolina which I just learned from IMDB).

The film opens with the heavies, shot up and pushing their getaway car along a seashore, which will soon be totally flooded by the high tide. A black and white palette lends this thing an air of severity. Soon enough Dickey finds his way up the slope to the castle which seems to be being used as a chicken farm. What eventually ensues is a bit of menace and a bit of strange. With pistol in hand the thugs take over the castle, though they’re both too shot up to do anything but attempt recuperation. Lionel’s Dickey tells Pleasance that he and his compatriot need help but Pleasance is shaken by his manner. What comes across well in this ever complicating tale is that level of human aversion to ill manner, however, there are too many moments that are frustrating for a modern viewer. Dickey isn’t very careful, and he’s soon alone and quite cavalier about the singular power, the handgun. And in an amusing development, friends visit and force the castle dwellers to perform a farce of Dickey being a servant. Only the child seems to understand fully that there’s something amiss and pursues Dickey with a child’s gleeful teasing, and later ends up with a shotgun and takes out a stained glass window! The oddness of the reactions to this occurrence are a mix of horror and complacency. The child’s protectors simply offer to pay for the window.

Even as the film is called a comedy, and the poster suggests you’ll be laughing, I have to say the menace of firearms and willingness to use them in order to press victims into subservience, reduce that comic effect. In the end the castle dwellers turn the tables, but the relationships are now forever ruined.

This is running free on Prime and is a workshop of film-making beauty. Elements of the Pleasance / Dorleac realtionship are playful and very sweet just before Dickey invades their little fantasy world.

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