Bunny Lake is Missing (1965)

“Curiouser and curiouser.”

In London, a young American (Keir Dullea) tries to help his unwed sister (Carol Lynley) find her missing daughter, Bunny.


Response to Peary’s Review:
This atmospheric, well-acted thriller — a “cult variation on So Long at the Fair” — plays upon two of our deepest fears: losing a child, and not being believed in a life-or-death situation. As Peary notes, director Otto Preminger “makes a strong point about the difficulty aliens (Americans in England, unwed mothers) have getting help”, and bravely deals in his script with issues such as “illegitimacy, homosexuality, and incest”; meanwhile, his “camera work has a feverish intensity” which keeps one consistently engaged. Though many critics seem to dislike the film’s gut-wrenching denouement (which “diverges from Evelyn Piper’s [source] novel”), I’ll admit I was so caught up in the story that I was easily able to overlook any gaps in logic or consistency.

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • Creative opening titles by Saul Bass
    Opening Titles
  • A suspenseful mystery with lots of “red herrings”
    Red Herring
  • Effective use of strange locales (such as the “doll hospital”)
    Doll Hospital
  • Laurence Olivier’s understated performance as a police detective on the case
    Laurence Olivier

Must See?
Yes. Though it’s not as famous as other Preminger classics, this cult thriller is well worth watching.



One Response to “Bunny Lake is Missing (1965)”

  1. Good enough to be a once-must — doesn’t hold up well beyond that — and, to be appreciated, it’s best seen in LBX, as Denys Coop filmed it marvelously. The impediment to satisfaction here is twofold: the social no-no involved (it doesn’t take much to see it coming) is not as “under the rock’ as when Preminger made the film; the leads are less-than-perfect: Lynley does get better as the film progresses, but Dullea (better elsewhere: “2001: A Space Odyssey’, “The Fox’) seems unwieldy.

    Acting-wise, it’s the supporting cast that boosts “Bunny’. Much-loved for his hammier performances, Olivier’s underplaying here grounds the film. Anna Massey (also good in “Peeping Tom’ and “Frenzy’) is dependable; Martita Hunt is delightful as the headmistress; Finlay Currie’s dollmaker is a small but solid plot device (“Love inflicts the most terrible injuries on my small patients.”); gay writer Noel Coward is aptly distasteful (“No autographs — but you may touch my garment.”) as the (hetero? bi?) landlord who at least flirts with S&M.

    In spite of an odd transition, the last half-hour is a marvel of economy and the quick pace is welcome. Apparently, “Bunny’ is now being remade (!), with Reese Witherspoon. In the original, certain “what happened’ issues ultimately remain murky; I can only think that the remake will opt for a more modern, JonBenet Ramsey-esque turn.

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