In which the Battersea Bardot finds her way to Hollywood and encounters an obsessive-possessive-psychotic Terry Stamp could have floored with one thump… It’s odd to see Carol White move from the improvised naturalism of Ken Loach to the more poised dynamics of this moderately-nasty thriller.
Hard to think of the situation in reverse say with John Cassavetes in an early Joanna Lumley film like The Breaking of Bumbo. JC and CW would have made for a good match, possibly in black and white but here it’s strange to see this actress so renowned for edgy improvisations in such a formulaic film and drenched in sunshine in a richly-coloured California.
|Cathy begins to have doubts...|
Carol plays Cathy Palmer (see what they did?) a British commercial artist who has relocated to America and indeed the film opens with her arrival, all smiles until she has a lump of unexpected snow thrown at her from a sparky young man walking past the airport taxi rank. The two share an instant attraction and he, Kenneth Daly (Scott Hylands) seems a well-balanced and connected professional. He lines Cathy up with an interview with an ad agency and she starts work but soon he is shown to be shiftless and bored – a very part-time photographer.
Scott Hylands is particularly unsettling when his character is informed of the abortion and something, literally, appears to snap inside: a believable breakdown for a persona on the edge who cannot differentiate between rights and wrongs. Here was something undeniably good that, for him, was ripped away but, upset though he may be, his response will be anything but proportionate.
Strange things start happening, Cathy can sense Ken around and glimpses him working as a Santa Claus at a department store and then following her to a garage. She leaves without getting her car fixed and comes to regret it weeks later when her labour starts… she leaves the car only to find Ken waiting, she tries to run but he follows… she faints.
|Danger in the waiting room|
All harmless weirdness up to this point but when Ken kills the doctor who performed Cathy’s abortion and leaves him with his feet in his own stirrups – a very creepy flourish – we know he’s more than just a nuisance.
|Toys in the attic and out of the pram...|
Ken is out to balance the books and wants Cathy to kill her baby to even things up with regard to the first one she had aborted (I don’t know; its psycho logic, why should it make any sense?!). He’s applying such pressure and even with the amount of protection Jack’s political position affords, can Cathy ignore the threats she knows are very real.
It’s a breathless dash to find the baby before Ken finally cracks (even more) …
The music’s from a chap called John Williams who I believe went on to find some success later in the decade with a film about a space war and some fella who can fly.
The film is available on DVD from Amazon and elsewhere. Not essential but for fans of Carol a very decent watch.