Bunny Lake is Missing (1965)

“Curiouser and curiouser.”

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

Genres:

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.

Categories

Links:

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.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.