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Saturday, September 19, 2015

Still Of The Night (1982)

When one of his patients (Josef Sommer) is murdered, a psychiatrist (Roy Scheider) becomes involved with the man's mistress (Meryl Streep), who just happens to be the no. 1 suspect in the murder. Someone once said that every director has one Hitchcock film in him. This is Robert Benton's (KRAMER VS. KRAMER) effort and it's a failure on just about every level. The film overtly pays homage to several Hitchcock films: the psychiatrist using a dream to solve a murder is from SPELLBOUND, the auction sequence is right out of NORTH BY NORTHWEST and there are two falls (including one from a bell tower) which recall VERTIGO. But the film is totally devoid of suspense. It's as if Benton had never actually seen a Hitchcock film but had heard them described by someone else and used that as his starting point. Scheider's character seems uncommonly thick headed for a psychiatrist and Meryl Streep is totally miscast. Her tics and mannerisms are all wrong for the mysterious blonde, a role a lesser actress like Kim Novak or Tippi Hedren could have done effortlessly. There's also a dreadful melancholy score by John Kander (CABARET) that's all wrong for the film. With Jessica Tandy, Joe Grifasi and in the film's strongest performance, Sara Botsford.

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