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    Living Dangerous-Lee

    Posted by Mike Finnegan on

    Courtesy of two outings with director Blake Edwards, Lee Remick had a dangerously rough 1962 on movie screens, although the hugely talented actress made out all right in the end. Her ferociously vulnerable work as the alcoholic Kirsten Arnesen Clay alongside Jack Lemmon in the Christmastime release Days of Wine and Roses (1962) resulted in a much-deserved Best Actress Oscar® nomination (her only one), finally vindicating the promise evidenced by her powerful performances in A Face in the Crowd (1957), The Long, Hot Summer (1958), Anatomy of a Murder (1959), Wild River (1960) and Sanctuary (1961).This assortment of roles all had in common a spirit of independence and a flash of daring sensuality, testing the limits of propriety in socially stifling settings and propelled by the provocative directorial stewardship of Elia Kazan, Martin Ritt, Otto Preminger and Tony Richardson. But in the Spring, she was the formidable focal point of Edwards’ noir thriller Experiment in Terror (1962), which she co-produced with Edwards and which opened 54 years ago today, playing a victimized San Francisco bank teller who defiantly won’t play the victim for a homicidal maniac, despite the murderous mayhem the killer (a sleazily menacing Ross Martin) unleashes. When she and her unsuspecting sister (Stefanie Powers) are threatened by the wheezing and weaselly perp unless she lifts $100,000 from the bank where she works, she gutsily determines to bring in the FBI instead, in the person of hard-nosed agent Glenn Ford. From that moment on, Edwards, screenwriters Gordon and Mildred Gordon, cinematographer Philip Lathrop and score composer Henry Mancini (via jazz inflections and autoharp stings) put her in absolute and unhesitating jeopardy. “By placing his menace in a sophisticated milieu, Edwards heightens the threat, expressing the noir concern that the city is outwardly respectable but inwardly seething with nameless terrors that spring to life when least expected,” Jonathan Benair writes in Film Noir: The Encyclopedia. “His use of the Bay Area as a location is rivaled only by Don Siegel in The Lineup and Dirty Harry. In all of these films, leaving your heart in San Francisco is not only a lyric’s fancy but also a grim possibility.” By the time the unstoppable psychopath confronts his pursuers in a shootout finale inside a crowded Candlestick Park, Remick has gone through a physical and emotional wringer – and brought the audience along with her. It’s a wonder that moviegoers had any stomach left for two equally gripping throat-clutchers, The Counterfeit Traitor and Cape Fear, that opened the following week! You can subject yourself to this spellbinding Experiment in Terror via Twilight Time’s hi-def Blu-ray available here: http://screenarchives.com/title_detail.cfm/ID/23301/EXPERIMENT-IN-TERROR-1962/.