Wednesday, April 18, 2012

In short: Blind Corner (1963)

aka Man in the Dark

Blind composer of horrible popular songs Paul Gregory (William Sylvester) thinks his marriage to former actress Anne (Barbara Shelley) is a bit more healthy than it really is, with Anne tolerating his bouts of cynicism (caused by his blindness) and his low-level alcoholism, and he in turn tolerating her unpleasant interest in money and love for being the social butterfly of the couple.

In truth, Anne has not been loving anything about Paul anymore but his money for quite some time now, and is having an affair with the young, and rather weak-willed, painter Rickie Seldon (Alexander Davion); Paul for his part is not exactly doing much to dissuade his secretary Joan (Elizabeth Shepherd) from her big fat crush on him.

Anne knows quite well that she won't be able to divorce Paul and keep access to his pile of money, so she's trying to convince Rickie to murder her husband, who likes to cavort drunk on their flat's balcony, so that they both can be together and rich - or so she says. Rickie's not too excited about the plan, but once Paul finds out about the affair and Anne puts the painter on the spot telling him he's either going to kill her husband or will never see her again (and, to Rickie's defence, she is played by Barbara Shelley), he comes around to the plan.

Both haven't counted on Paul being blind but far from stupid or helpless, though. There's also an additional nasty surprise waiting for the painter.

Lance Comfort's Blind Corner is - despite two horrid musical numbers that make quite clear why Beatlemania was good and necessary - a pretty swell little melodramatic thriller.

Comfort's direction isn't much to talk about. Blind Corner more a case of a director not getting in the way of his actors than of one putting his own mark on the proceedings, but that does of course imply that Comfort - veteran of British B-movies that he was - was quite capable of realizing the quality of his cast and giving them room to do their thing without him trying to get in their way.

For it is the quality of the cast and the script that makes Blind Corner worth watching. All of the principals are just really excellent at fleshing out the small complexities the script by James Kelley allows them. Sylvester's projection of a combination of ill-served romanticism (which is paralleled in Davion's also rather problematic - seeing as it leads him into an affair with a married woman and a murder plan - romanticism), bitterness and self-loathing is a thing to behold, while also making it more understandable why Anne might not want to live with him any longer (without excusing murder, obviously). Shelley (who is one of the great actresses of British genre films, of course) for her part makes for a fantastic femme fatale, carrying herself with the right mixture of allure and cruelty, yet also showing why life with Paul has - at least in part - made her how she is, in a performance that's more complex than you'd expect in your run of the mill low budgeted thriller melodrama.

Blind Corner is a fine example of the British low budget thriller, and comes highly recommended, even to the fools who don't adore Barbara Shelley.


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