David Stillwell (Gregory Peck) emerges from a darken doorway of a 27th floor New York apartment block into a bustling crowd of slightly crazy people. A blackout has occurred through-out the building, bizarrely making everyone a bit feisty. To his surprise he is offered the chance to attend an orgy, twice! “I’ve already passed on one orgy. I have to go.”
Bumping into a lady called Shela (Diane Baker) who knows him but he can’t quite place her they discuss what was happening upstairs.
David – “I think the entire buildings gone mad. Everyone’s running around trying to re-sin the Ten Commandments.”
Shela – “I’ve never understood why most people will do things in the dark, that they’d never think of doing in the light.” “No, I’m serious. If we can lie, cheat, steal, and kill in broad daylight and have to wait until it’s dark to make love, something’s wrong somewhere.”
Now I’ve got that out of the way the mystery can start because none of that has anything really to do with the film! Don’t worry I always, I do hope so, try not to include spoilers in my posts, well as little as possible when outlining the basic plot details. So rest assured that reading will, I hope spark an interest in the film. That interest and mystery here is that David Stillwell has no recollection of the last two years!!!!
What has happened to him and all the strange things that keep happening around him and why is there a mysterious Major (Leif Erickson) after him? He spends his time puzzling over the mystery, trying to work out clues from chance meetings with people. Even having to enroll the help from a private detective, the absolutely wonderful Walter Matthau who plays Ted Caselle. Can he somehow help David find out who he is or what the blue blazes is going on?
Add in the mystery pot, buckets of deja vu, a murder or suicide! Possible hit men, strange visions, a beautiful woman, a psychiatrist and a film that plays out like a feature length episode of The Twilight Zone.
This film is a masterpiece in my eyes, it never lets up. The dialogue is wonderful, the twisting, turning plot is relentless. Just revealing little tiny pieces, one at a time in all the right places. The editing is first class with quick flashes of memory recalled by some nudge of a key word or a situation. This film could sit nicely next to Hitchcock’s suspenseful thrillers.
Based on a novel called Fallen Angel written by Howard Fast under the pen name of Walter Ericson. Screenwriter Peter Stone (The Taking of Pelham One Two Three) does his stuff to craft this taut thriller for the superb director Edward Dmytryk.
Musical arrangements are scored by composer Quincy Jones in what I thought was his second film soundtrack after The Pawnbroker but I’ve just seen listed a 1961 drama from Sweden called Pojken i trädet (Boy In The Tree) that he did. How did that come about I wonder?
By hook or by crook get on this mind-blowing thriller if you fancy it. I’m pretty sure there’s no way you won’t enjoy it. Have fun…. Be seeing you… Mikey Wolfman