Friday, July 05, 2013

Experiment in Terror (2013 Sony Columbia restoration)

Kauhun lunnaat / The Grip of Fear / Operazione terrore. US © 1962 Geoffrey-Kate Productions. D: Blake Edwards. Dal romanzo Operation Terror di Gordon Gordon e Mildred Gordon. SC: The Gordons [= Gordon Gordon, Mildred Gordon]. DP: Philip Lathrop - 1,85:1. ED: Patrick McCormack. AD: Robert Peterson, James M. Crowe. M: Henry Mancini. S: Lambert Day, Charles J. Rice. C: Glenn Ford (John 'Rip' Ripley), Lee Remick (Kelly Sherwood), Stefanie Powers (Tody Sherwood), Roy Poole (Brad), Ned Glass (Popcorn), Anita Loo (Lisa), Patricia Huston (Nancy Ashton), Gilbert Green (agente speciale), Clifton James (capitano Moreno). P: Blake Edwards per Columbia Pictures, Geoffrey-Kate Productions. Premiere: 13 aprile 1962. 2K DCP. 123'. B&w. Da: Sony Columbia per concessione di Park Circus. Cinema Arlecchino (Il Cinema Ritrovato, Bologna), 5 July 2013

The original camera negative was scanned at 4K at Cineric in New York. The 4K files were then moved to Colorworks at Sony Pictures for color correction. The 4K files were moved to MTI Film in Los Angeles for digital image restoration and audio restoration was at Chace Audio by Deluxe

Peter von Bagh: "Experiment in Terror is a brilliant example of a 'different' Blake Edwards, and at the same time it almost defines his special talent: it's a key film for understanding everything he did best, from the ironically observed ordinariness of Mister Cory to the wild eccentricities of The Party, via his contemporary movie Breakfast at Tiffany's. Nothing would seem further from the coldness of terror, and yet the theme of looking (or voyeurism) makes Experiment in Terror and Breakfast at Tiffany's strange bedfellows, and particularly frightening in scenes when mannequins are dangling from the ceiling - a grim vision that escalates to horror  when  the  artist  herself is hanging upside down from the ceiling, reduced to another object - a surreal reply to the colorful, fashion-conscious world of Tiffany's. The suburban Experiment in Terror is the first of two black and white movies that rate among Edwards' best. It was followed by Days of Wine and Roses, adapted from a TV play - directed by John Frankenheimer - from the 'golden age' of American television; the original and the film are a fine example of what the two mediums can achieve at their best. Indeed, everything here needed black and white: the milieu, the naked view of the police procedural, the horror of a sadist whose presence is most tangible through his invisibility and his asthmatic breathing. (Always larger than life, the horror he evokes is visible on the face of his victim, Lee Remick.) The murderer and blackmailer has some- times been compared with M, obviously to the advantage of Fritz Lang (what film on earth could surpass M?), and surely there are remarkable connections, especially in the way both films convey the sense that maybe after all the marginal, or 'monster', might be not an exception but rather in some terrible way a paradigm of his society. Here plain ordinariness becomes poignant: the geography of a suburb with a swimming pool, restaurants, a bank, taxis, a baseball field, all of it little by little conveying signs of horror in everyday life. In passing it is interesting to notice that Glenn Ford, the star of two Lang films almost a decade earlier, gives an admirable, almost anonymous interpretation fully in tune with the subtle, subdued methods the police use and the professional side of the investigations. The presence of the police force and its machine of surveillance, in many ways almost unseen and yet everywhere, builds into an ice cold, objective view of the social machine, of power and sexuality, both perverted - a social machine inside a modern electronic space, breathing to the rhythm of the murderer." Peter von Bagh

Blake Edwards at his best in a thriller with bite. There is an assured touch and a joy in visual bravado - in the opening long shots of the freeway - in the extreme close-ups in the scenes of Lee Remick being terrorized by her tormentor - in the majestic view of the bank hall - and in the final Olympian helicopter shot rising above the stadium. As well as in the personal approach to San Francisco views with their steep hill roads, Chinese restaurants, Coit Tower, Fisherman's Wharf, and Candlestick Park. There are affinities with Hitchcock (Psycho), and this thriller may have inspired Bava and Argento with its undercurrents of sexual violence (the gruesome fate of the mannequin maker). There is an original contribution to cinematic modernism in this tale of urban alienation.

Superb cinematography by Philip Lathrop, an electrifying score by Henry Mancini (which may have inspired Morricone), and unusual touches in the screenplay by Gordon Gordon and Mildred Gordon. The psychotic criminal has a tender relationship with a Chinese woman and her little son Joey hospitalized after having been given an artificial hip socket. Providing little Joey with toys such as a toy tiger "Uncle Red" is "like a father to Joey". Glenn Ford gives an interesting, disciplined, low key performance as the FBI detective. Lee Remick was at her best in this period, or in this period she was given many strong roles.

A brilliant 4K Sony Columbia restoration.

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