“Whatever I photograph, I always lose.”
Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
Response to Peary’s Review:
Hold it right there: I most definitely do NOT enjoy seeing such things on screen, and while I know many do, it’s sloppy to lump together all movie lovers (indeed, all humans) in this fashion. Peary adds that “if the voyeur is guilty of violating one’s privacy, then Powell sees the filmmaker as being guilty of aggressive acts not unlike rape (where you steal a moment in time, and a person’s emotions, that the person can never have back).” I’m ultimately more in agreement with Vincent Canby’s 1979 review of the re-released film (restored by Martin Scorsese), in which he states:
Indeed, filming someone is not rape, and watching filmed images does not equate taking away anything from the person on screen, especially not in a violent fashion.
Back to Peary’s review (excerpted from his lengthier essay in Cult Movies), he points out that “the villain of the picture is not Boehm but Boehm’s dead scientist father (played by Powell in a flashback) who used his young son as a guinea pig, terrifying him and filming him to study the effects of fear on the boy’s nervous system.” (Ick; the fact that this is openly put forth in a film from this era is remarkable.) Peary reasons that Boehm “figures that since his scientist-filmmaker father in effect ‘murdered’ him, his guinea pig, then he, also a filmmaker-scientist, has a right to kill human beings when continuing Dad’s experiments.” This psychoanalytical explanation makes as much sense as any other; what’s indisputable, however, is how badly damaged Boehm is — which leads one to wonder why all the women around him (other than blind Audley) aren’t better at picking up on the rather obvious creepiness he projects from every pore. He lacks even Norman Bates’ attempts at charm and wit, and one can’t help feeling like the women he’s imperiling (specifically Massey) are out of their minds for hanging out with him.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments: