Peeping Tom (1960)

Not Rated   |    |  Drama, Horror, Thriller

Peeping Tom (1960) Poster

A young man murders women, using a movie camera to film their dying expressions of terror.




  • Karlheinz Böhm and Anna Massey in Peeping Tom (1960)
  • Peeping Tom (1960)
  • Michael Powell and Columba Powell in Peeping Tom (1960)
  • Karlheinz Böhm and Anna Massey in Peeping Tom (1960)
  • Karlheinz Böhm and Pamela Green in Peeping Tom (1960)
  • Karlheinz Böhm and Anna Massey in Peeping Tom (1960)

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Reviews & Commentary

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User Reviews

7 December 2003 | Prof_Lostiswitz
| "Did You Get the Point?"
Peeping Tom is a philosophical movie that investigates the nature of perception, rather than an edge-of-the seat thriller. The phrase "snuff films" hadn't even been invented in 1960, nor did videotape cameras exist, so the movie was far in advance of its time. You might be disappointed if you looking for pure excitement, you have to be willing to examine deeper issues.

Carl Bohm is perfect in the role of the killer, and his faint German accent (which might be interpreted as a. psychogenic speech defect) adds to the creepiness of his character. Instead of an over-the-top maniac (Jack Nicholson, are you listening?), he portrays a frightened and insecure little person who can only relate to the world by looking at it, preferably through a camera lens. It is easy to condemn him for his obsession with peeping, but -um- aren't we doing the same thing by watching this movie, or any movie? The most interesting movies are those that provoke such questions in us. This aspect also helps explain why Peeping Tom was so fiercely condemned in 1960.

(The scenes between Bohm and Massey remind me of those between Gustav Diesel and Louise Brooks in the last part of Pandora's Box (1928), and you can bet the Michael Powell was familiar with Pabst's work.)

The idea that scrutiny = punishment was explored by Michel Foucault in his book Surveiller et Punir, which I happened to read a long time ago. We will be finding out more about this as the "National Security State" draws closer. Anyway, here you have a powerless little guy who tries to feel the same sense of control by turning his camera - literally - into a murder-weapon. The technical details of this contrivance seem unrealistic, but the symbolism is so powerful they scarcely matter.

The hard-edged sound of late-50s cool jazz works very nicely in setting the atmosphere, similar to Town Without Pity (1960). Nowadays we tend to think of that era as idyllic, so its useful to remind ourselves of the dark edges that existed.

Critic Reviews

Did You Know?


Mark uses a pair of unconventional, electric space heater like loudspeakers in his workshop. The Quad Electroacoustic model ESL-57 can be seen prominently in the background in the final scene with Mark playing the screaming audio tapes to Helen. The panel speaker design was ahead of its time. Unlike traditional "box" speakers with woofers, the ESL-57 uses ultra thin electrostatic panels to reproduce sound. The sonic advantages are unrivaled transparency and naturalness. "Sound and Vision" magazine hails the ESL-57 as one of the most important loudspeakers of the 20th century. The British speakers are now audio classics and highly prized in the audiophile community.


Dora: It'll be two quid


When Mark is filming Helen's mother, he touches her hands with the tip of the camera's leg, but in the next shot the leg isn't touching her and she removes the top revealing the blade with mother not even being close.

Alternate Versions

The film proved to be problematic for the BBFC who demanded around 7 mins of cuts. Among these were reductions to the murder scenes, closeups of the spike on Mark's camera, all shots of nude girls in photo albums and on colour slides, closeups of a woman's disfigured face, shots of Milly lying on the bed, and dialogue during the conversation between the police officers in the car. Later video and DVD releases contain much of the footage, suggesting that not all of the cuts were made, although the original uncut print now appears to be lost forever.


Plot Summary

Synopsis (WARNING: Spoilers)


Drama | Horror | Thriller

Box Office


GBP135,000 (estimated)

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:


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