19 March 2006 | dougbrode
a psychiatrist (sidney Poitier) analyzes a neo-Nazi (bobby Darin)
One of the pioneering films of the early sixties, allowing for more freedom of the screen in terms of both subject matter and style, still waits to be rediscovered. It's Pressure Point, which almost - but not quite - made a fullblown movie star out of Bobby Darin. He had always hoped to be the next Sinatra not only in terms of singing but also acting, and he had the chops for each - though timing was against him as the Beatle invasion dimmed interest in American pop stars. Still, he did appear in about a dozen films, none more remarkable than this study of a psychiatrist (Sidney Poitier) analyzing a Neo-Nazi patient (Darin). Originally, producer Stanley Kramer (who wisely chose not to direct, something he wasn't all that good at) had planned to use a nordic-Anglo type for the patient, someone like the young Robert Redford perhaps, until Darin read for the role and blew everyone away. Though Darin was definitely mostly Italian, and probably part Jewish, and therefore very ethnic looking himself, he left the producer stunned with the intensity of his performance. When the film failed at the box-office, that helped to spell an end to his hoped for movie star career; also, Darin was so convincingly unpleasant that it was hard to take him as a light leading man in comedies with Sandra Dee after seeing him so hard-edged - unforgettably so - here. Poitier is quietly effective, and there's a nice cameo by Peter Falk as a boyish (?!) young psychiatrist who, years later, confers with the elderly Poitier and is told this strange story. Though much of the film is grimly realistic in the black and white style so popular at the time, Darin's dream sequences while under analysis are all surrealistically rendered and highly effective. And while there had been civil rights films made throughout the 1950s, none had ever been quite so daring as this. Here's a lost classic worth rediscovering.