Sunday, May 19, 2013

Review: Someone Behind the Door - 1971

Someone Behind the Door
Director: Nicolas Gessner

Dr. Laurence Jefferies takes on a new patient, a man with total amnesia. He doesn’t know who he is or even his name. Dr. Laurence helps him to remember by planting all sorts of things in his presence. But Dr. Laurence isn’t the good guy thinks at first; he has a personal agenda. He doesn’t really want to help the man remember; his goal is to plant memories into the man’s head so that he can carry out Dr. Laurence revenge against his cheating wife…

I realize that the above plot description might have a couple of spoiler in it since it’s not known what Dr. Laurence is doing at first. It’s fairly obvious that he doesn’t play it totally straight though and that he has some foul play in his mind. Anthony Perkins has the perfect facial expression for such a role. We all know him from Hitchcock’s Psycho where he basically does the same thing. We don’t know what it is, but we’re sure there is something wrong.

The other part – The Man, is portrayed by Charles Bronson who also makes a good job. In some scenes he proves beyond a doubt that he’s an actor capable of playing something else than a vigilante. He seems to do this with relative ease and we’re totally convinced that he’s an amnesia case. He’s frustrated over not remembering and when Perkins plants something for him to remember he jumps at it. He SO willing to swallow everything Perkins gives him it´s almost ridiculous. He swallows the hook, line and sinker to be sure!

Bronson can’t be blamed for this though. He didn’t write the part he merely acted it as it was written. The problem is with the story and the direction. It never gets suspenseful and it never gets exciting. I think this is partly because there are not so many characters in the film. Basically there are three: Dr. Laurence (Perkins), his wife (Jill Ireland) and the man with amnesia (Bronson). There are a couple of smaller parts as well but nothing major. This means that it takes something really special to create the need tension for it to be exciting. There are a couple of movies throughout history that has managed it, but not too many.

So what we have here is a plot that is basically interesting but doesn’t work since it doesn’t create enough tension between the characters. Yet it´s nicely played in all the ways that can be asked for. We feel sorry for the man with amnesia but not enough to bond with him. The character is the most important of all but is in essence a supporting part. Come to think of it, all of the main characters are nothing less than supporting parts. There are no leads at all in this movie. Strange isn’t it?

When it’s over we don’t feel sorry for anyone. Not the man with amnesia, definitely not Dr. Laurence and not his wife. Not even her lover which is the reason for the revenging scheme in the first place. It’s a movie that should interest movie buffs, Charles Bronson and/or Anthony Perkins fans (and Jill Ireland of course). Nothing more, nothing less…