The timely story of a normal family disintegrating under financial pressure, eventually driven to the unimaginable. We witness the terrifying events unfold through daughter Judith's video camera, which subsequently becomes Exhibit A.
Mark Lewis, works as a focus puller in a British film studio. On his off hours, he supplies a local porno shop with cheesecake photos and also dabbles in filmmaking. A lonely, unfriendly, sexually repressed fellow, Mark is obsessed with the effects of fear and how they are registered on the face and behavior of the frightened. This obsession dates from the time when, as a child, he served as the subject of some cold-blooded experiments in the psychology of terror conducted by his own scientist father. As a grown man, Mark becomes a compulsive murderer who kills women and records their contorted features and dying gasps on film. His ongoing project is a documentary on fear. With 16mm camera in hand, he accompanies a prostitute to her room and stabs her with a blade concealed in his tripod, all the while photographing her contorted face in the throes of terror and death. Alone in his room, he surrounds himself with the sights and sounds of terror: taped screams, black-and-white "home ... Written by
This is the British counterpart of Psycho. Though it was banned for many years and so it did not become a box office smash like Psycho, filmmakers that saw it when it opened cite it as being similarly influential, maybe more so, because although the set pieces are more artfully constructed in Psycho, the killer in Peeping Tom is much more tragic and sympathetic, a major innovation for film at the time. See more »
Disappearing seam on prostitute's stockings in opening scenes See more »
[Mark approaches the prostitute, covertly filming her]
It'll be two quid
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Michael Powell, the distinguished English director, probably contributed to his own demise from the film industry with "Peeping Tom", a movie that proved to be well ahead of its times and a masterpiece by this man who gave so much to enhance the industry in Great Britain. In fact, it's a shame this was almost the last film he directed before going on to a kind of exile in Australia.
"Peeping Tom" is an exercise in voyeurism Mr. Powell, and his screen writer, Leo Marks, created to prove to what extent how one is capable of watching things one shouldn't watch. At the same time, Mr. Powell created a psychological essay about what makes Mark Lewis, the central character of the film, act the way he acted. Mark has been scarred for life thanks to what his own father did to him during a period of his growing years that formed his character into the reclusive man who feels at home doing the despicable crimes he commits.
One of the strengths of the film is the amazing portrayal of Mark Lewis by the German actor, Carl Boehm, who made a superb contribution to the movie. Mr. Boehm is perfect because by just looking at him, one would never guess what's inside his soul, or what motivates him to kill and record his crimes.
Mr. Powell brought together an amazing cast that shines in the film. Moira Shearer, Anna Massey, Maxime Audley, Brenda Bruce, Bartlett Mullins, are among the most prominent players one sees in the film.
The newly restored copy we saw as part of the retrospective shown at the Walter Reade this year has been enhanced in ways one didn't think would be possible and it's a tribute to the great director, who should have been proud of how today's audiences are reacting when they discover his movies that seem will live forever.
It's ironic that Mr. Powell didn't get the recognition he deserved during his lifetime.
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