Stop Me Before I Kill! (1960)

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*. The title probably sounds familiar even if you’ve never heard of this movie (which you probably haven’t). In 1945 the serial killer William Heirens killed Frances Broan and wrote the following note in lipstick on a mirror in her apartment: “For heavens sake catch me before I kill more I cannot control myself.”
*. It’s actually the U.S. alternative title. It was originally released in the U.K. as The Full Treatment, which is the name of the novel it was based on.
*. This is not a good movie, in any department. The exclamation mark in the U.S. title is totally unearned, suggesting a level of excitement that is never felt. But then I wonder how many really good movies there have been about psychiatrists. They always seem so earnest, and date so quickly.
*. It’s undone by its script, which, in typical Hammer psycho-thriller fashion, is heavily overwritten (talky, with a needlessly complex plot). I think they were going for a downscale version of Vertigo, which had just come out a couple of years earlier. But this movie is even more far-fetched. The psychology, for starters, is hard to buy into. Even if that “abreaction” technique were ever employed for such a purpose, I doubt it was used like it is here.
*. It’s undone by its budget, which was obviously strict. The interiors look like sets, with Colby’s apartment coming off particularly bad (at least the Harley Street psychiatrist has a bookshelf full of the works of Freud). The various accidents are all elided or clumsily rendered through frantic edits. We only see the stagey aftermaths of the two car accidents. And note how he two luxury cars, including the doctor’s Bentley, appear to be totally undamaged after their collision. Of course we never see the cable car fall.
*. It’s undone by the cast, all of whom seem out of place. The thick accents don’t help, but even Ronald Lewis as a bottom-slapping Brit is annoying. Not that I think anyone could have pulled off such a role, switching from hot to cold so many times, so quickly.
*. About the only thing I liked here is the scenery. The Côte d’Azur circa. 1960. If only I had a time machine.

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