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Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Peeping Tom (1960)


A seemingly innocuous young man (Karlheinz Bohm) works as a focus puller at a London film studio. But he is also a psychologically disturbed serial killer who films his victims at the moment of their death. Directed by Michael Powell (BLACK NARCISSUS), this is a seriously disturbing and unsettling piece of cinema that has lost none of its shock value in over 55 years. It was shocking enough in its day to pretty much have ruined Powell's career after the hateful and disgusted reviews it received in the British press. This is really an extraordinary film. As the film unfolds, we learn that Bohm's protagonist is also a victim since a child. While, of course, it doesn't justify his sadistic killings, it allows insight and empathy for a "villain" whose character isn't defined by a black and white characterization. What's interesting is how the killer doesn't try to outsmart the police, he knows he'll be caught and is prepared for it, it's his inevitable fate and he almost welcomes it. It's ironic that in the same year (1960) as PEEPING TOM was released in Britain and flopped, Hitchcock's not unsimilar PSYCHO opened to great box office success. With Moira Shearer, Anna Massey, Maxine Audley, Shirley Anne Field and Pamela Green. 

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