Experiment In Terror

Blake Edwards

T. it.: Operazione terrore. T. alt.: The Grip of Fear. Sog.: dal romanzo Operation Terror di Gordon Gordon e Mildred Gordon. Scen.: Gordon Gordon, Mildred Gordon. F.: Philip Lathrop. M.: Patrick McCormack. Scgf.: Robert Peterson, James M. Crowe. Mus.: Henry Mancini. Su.: Lambert Day, Charles J. Rice. Int.: Glenn Ford (John ‘Rip’ Ripley), Lee Remick (Kelly Sherwood), Stefanie Powers (Tody Sherwood), Roy Poole (Brad), Ned Glass (Popcorn), Anita Loo (Lisa), Patricia Huston (Nancy Ashton), Gilbert Green (agente speciale), Clifton James (capitano Moreno). Prod.: Blake Edwards per Columbia Pictures, Geoffrey-Kate Productions. Pri. pro.: 13 aprile 1962 DCP. D.: 123′. Bn.

T. it.: Italian title. T. int.: International title. T. alt.: Alternative title. Sog.: Story. Scen.: Screenplay. F.: Cinematography. M.: Editing. Scgf.: Set Design. Mus.: Music. Int.: Cast. Prod.: Production Company. L.: Length. D.: Running Time. f/s: Frames per second. Bn.: Black e White. Col.: Color. Da: Print source

Film Notes

Experiment in Terror is a brilliant example of a ‘different’ Blake Edwards, and at the same time it almost defines his special talent: it’s a key film for understanding everything he did best, from the ironically observed ordinariness of Mister Cory to the wild eccentricities of The Party, via his contemporary movie Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Nothing would seem further from the coldness of terror, and yet the theme of looking (or voyeurism) makes Experiment in Terror and Breakfast at Tiffany’s strange bedfellows, and particularly frightening in scenes when mannequins are dangling from the ceiling a grim vision that escalates to horror  when  the  artist herself is hanging upside down from the ceiling, reduced to another object a surreal reply to the colorful, fashion-conscious world of Tiffany’s. The suburban Experiment in Terror is the first of two black and white movies that rate among Edwards’ best. It was followed by Days of Wine and Roses, adapted from a TV play directed by John Frankenheimer from the ‘golden age’ of American television; the original and the film are a fine example of what the two mediums can achieve at their best. Indeed, everything here needed black and white: the milieu, the naked view of the police procedural, the horror of a sadist whose presence is most tangible through his invisibility and his asthmatic breathing. (Always larger than life, the horror he evokes is visible on the face of his victim, Lee Remick.) The murderer and blackmailer has sometimes been compared with M, obviously to the advantage of Fritz Lang (what film on earth could surpass M?), and surely there are remarkable connections, especially in the way both films convey the sense that maybe after all the marginal, or ‘monster’, might be not an exception but rather in some terrible way a paradigm of his society. Here plain ordinariness becomes poignant: the geography of a suburb with a swimming pool, restaurants, a bank, taxis, a baseball field, all of it little by little conveying signs of horror in everyday life. In passing it is interesting to notice that Glenn Ford, the star of two Lang films almost a decade earlier, gives an admirable, almost anonymous interpretation fully in tune with the subtle, subdued methods the police use and the professional side of the investigations. The presence of the police force and its machine of surveillance, in many ways almost unseen and yet everywhere, builds into an ice cold, objective view of the social machine, of power and sexuality, both perverted a social machine inside a modern electronic space, breathing to the rhythm of the murderer.

Peter von Bagh

Copy From

The original camera negative was scanned at 4K at Cineric in New York. The 4K files were then moved to Colorworks at Sony Pictures for color correction. The 4K files were moved to MTI Film in Los Angeles for digital image restoration and audio restoration was at Chace Audio by Deluxe