Friday, 6 February 2015

THE COUCH













d. Owen Crump (1962)


Charles Campbell (Grant Williams) has issues: he's a thief and a fantasist with delusions of grandeur; he's choking with anger and sexual rage; he pretends that his hated dead father is alive, and his beloved alive sister is dead, and, every night at seven pm, he goes into the busy streets of the city and stabs a stranger to death with an ice pick. He's also in love with his psychiatrist's niece and, god help her, she feels the same way about him.

Nearly noir, nowhere near normal, most of the action takes place in public places rendered desolate and full of shadows: out of hours offices, a lonely spot overlooking the neon lit city, the busy streets at night where thousands of people walk shoulder to shoulder and fail to notice one another. No wonder some of them go a little crazy although, to be fair, our protagonist takes it as far as he can without actually falling off the edge of the planet.  

Grant Williams is a favourite actor of mine. He's somewhere between a matinee idol and a method actor, although he has a curiously pitted face, and his skin looks like a sheet of low density sandpaper. Williams plays the psycho killer as charming and weird, managing to keep his character constantly off beam but without ever rolling his eyes, gnashing his teeth and playing the obvious villain. You even feel sorry for him. When he hears something he doesn't like he shoves his fist in his mouth and bites down on it, a fairly standard bit of dramatic business apart from the fact that, when you see his hand a little later, he has actual bite marks on his knuckles. It's not necessarily acting, but it is impressive.

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