Dedications: My four late friends Rory, Stan, Bryan, Jeff - shine on you crazy diamonds, they would have blogged too. Then theres Garry from Brisbane, Franco in Milan, Mike now in S.F. / my '60s-'80s gang: Ned & Joseph in Ireland; in England: Frank, Des, Guy, Clive, Joe & Joe, Ian, Ivan, Nick, David, Les, Stewart, the 3 Michaels / Catriona, Sally, Monica, Jean, Ella, Anne, Candie / and now: Daryl in N.Y., Jerry, John, Colin, Martin and Donal.

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

London, 1965: Bunny Lake is missing

Ann Lake has just moved to London with her daughter, Bunny. When she goes to retrieve her daughter after the girl's first day at school, no one has any record of Bunny having been registered. When even the police can find no trace that the girl ever existed, they wonder if the child was only a fantasy of Ann's. When Ann's brother backs up the police's suspicions, she appears to be a mentally-disturbed individual. Are they right? 

Missing children stories crop up regularly - there is a current one here in England. Otto Preminger's 1965 thriller is an interesting variation on this newspaper staple - is there really a missing child? Who is making it appear as if the mother is mentally unbalanced?  The solution here is rather too obvious and we spend too long with one of our leads in mad mode ... but its a great cast and has some good London locations. Just like John Ford used London for his GIDEON OF SCOTLAND YARD thriller 1958, now Otto choose Hampstead - the posh part - and another great cast of British regulars for his thriller. Spot them all here:  Anna Massey, Finlay Currie, Richard Wattis - even the smallest parts are filled by the likes of Fred Emney, Victor Maddern, Delphi Lawrence, Suzanne Neve, Lucie Mannheim, Megs Jenkins etc. 
Carol Lynley is the distraught mother after not being able to find her daughter at the school where nobody seems to know anything about the child, Keir Dullea is her concerned brother, whizzing around London is his sports car. They are Americans new in London. The selling point here is Laurence Olivier as the police detective, looking more or less like himself (this was the era when he was blacking up for OTHELLO, KHARTOUM etc) and its a role he plays perfectly as he begins to doubt if there really is a child, as all her belongings and passport have also vanished and there is nobody who has actually seen Bunny. 

There are some interesting red herrings too: Martita Hunt (Miss Havisham, that was) is the retired head of the school with her tape recordings of childrens' bad dreams, while Noel Coward potters around as the rather decadent landlord. Interesting seeing old pals Olivier and Coward here, and Larry's scene with Richard Wattis reminds one of their scenes in THE PRINCE AND THE SHOWGIRL ... That 60s pop group The Zombies are seen on a pub television. The ending is rather protracted but of course the police arrive in the nick of time, and yes there really is a Bunny, but I can't reveal more.

Lee Remick & Keir Dullea BUS STOP, 1976
Carol Lynley probably has her best role, and this was the movie where Coward made that witty comment: "Keir Dullea, gone tomorrow". Keir though had a rather good career - in several offbeat movies including that 1969 piece of trash DE SADE (review Trash label), and of course 2001 A SPACE ODYSSEY will play forever (its his co-star there Gary Lockwood who has disappeared). I saw him on stage too as that annoying cowboy (above) opposite Lee Remick's Cherie in BUS STOP here in London in 1976 (Lee Remick label). BUNNY LAKE IS MISSING though is quite a good thriller, as scripted by John and Penelope Mortimer. Otto went on to HURRY SUNDOWN next - we will have to re-see that at some stage too.

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