10 October 2014 | danielmartinx
I caught this on Youtube last night. I am a devotee of giallo and 70s horror and 60s/70s stylish detective/mystery films. The cast in particular intrigued me: Peter Lawford, Stefanie Powers, EG Marshall, Harry Morgan. The film itself is about a serial murderer in NYC, and there are scenes of public demonstrations as the entire city bunkers down to avoid being slain by the Hydra, who mysteriously strangles people based upon their age.
Stylistically, this is the pinnacle of 70s coolness. There are all of the decor elements (lamps with huge shades, shag carpeting, everyone with luxurious hair, groovy overcoats) and 1970 NYC is filmed beautifully, with its parks and sidewalks and traffic creating a very iconic backdrop for the acting.
The acting. Stefanie Powers can give a line reading like almost no one else. She really is in command of every dimension of the craft of acting, from microexpressions to posture to movement to speaking. She drops her voice down and uses a hushed girl-next-door tone when she speaks alone with Peter Lawford, and it's unbelievably warm and compelling. I found myself wishing that there were more scenes with her.
Lawford plays an annoying narcissistic juvenile of sixty whose only interests are substance abuse and promiscuity, and although I raised my eyebrow and was repulsed at first, I was won over quite soon. Harry Morgan is funny, and EG Marshall is a pompous and cold psychiatrist who makes me think of every TV psychiatrist I've ever seen.
The story is fun. They reveal the killer far earlier than I expected, and the rest of the film is a cat-and-mouse caper. There is one scene on the World Trade Center roof that suddenly becomes a Hitchcock-styled surrealist fantasy. NYC was beautiful in 1971, and the film uses the city for maximum effect.
I recommend this movie for fans of stylish and hip comedic murder mystery films.