“Norah, don’t you see? I’m with you everywhere.”
A disturbed busboy (Sal Mineo) makes anonymous phone calls to his d.j. co-worker Norah (Juliet Prowse); meanwhile, Norah’s case is investigated by an eager police detective (Jan Murray) who specializes in sexual perverts.
Joseph Cates’ atmospheric b&w stalker film features fine performances (especially by toothy dancer Juliet Prowse); smart dialogue; and a creepy turn by Sal Mineo as the troubled young man whose traumatic childhood — in typical mid-century Freudian cine-analysis (see The Mark, 1961) — has led to his frightening sexual disturbances. Framed as a film about desire, every character except Norah is depicted as wanting something from someone else: Detective Madden hopes to use Norah to find her stalker (as well as every stalker in town) in retribution for his wife’s rape and murder years earlier; Norah’s boss (Elaine Stritch) wants to comfort her in a more-than-maternal fashion; Mineo’s brain-damaged younger sister wants him to take care of and play with her; and Mineo, of course, wants Norah’s body. There ultimately isn’t much new in this tale of sexual obsession, but Prowse makes us care about her fiercely independent character, and we watch with concern to see what will happen to her next.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- Juliet Prowse’s strong, appealing performance as Norah
- Atmospheric b&w cinematography — particularly in the opening sequences
- Jan Murray as the obsessed detective determined to nab Norah’s predator
- Elaine Stritch as Norah’s sympathetic — perhaps too sympathetic — boss
- Smart dialogue
- Effective use of New York City locales
No. While this is an atmospheric, well-acted thriller, Who Killed Teddy Bear is ultimately not must-see viewing.