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Rod Serling meets Michael Powell
Zen Bones27 August 2000
I don't know why this film is virtually unknown. For its time it must have been very controversial and even today it still packs a wallop of a punch. But I am as equally impressed by the style of this film as I am with the performances and the screenplay. Fans of THE TWILIGHT ZONE will feel right at home with the stark B&W stylization of the dream sequences and the childhood flashbacks. Yet like any great film, it doesn't let its style overwhelm the viewer. It simply acts as a springboard from which it can stun the viewer with the emotional impact of the story. It takes a lot to shock me, yet the flashbacks of the patient's childhood (especially one terrifying scene in a meat hanger that reminded me of the father-son relationship in PEEPING TOM) chilled me with its honest portrayal of childhood terror and helplessness. The other aspect of this film that intrigued me was the whole analytical forum of intellectual cat-and-mouse between patient and doctor. Realistically, an adult black man in the 1940s would have built up a shield to fend off the kinds of brutal statements made by his patient. But the patient's high intelligence throws Poitier off guard. He makes Poitier confront the injustices and indignities present in the country that he is so vigorously defending, thus he makes him confront his own anger and contempt. He makes Poitier an ally in anger, and that would throw anyone off balance. I also want to congratulate the film for its honest portrayals of terror and humiliation. An abusive game of tic-tac-toe in the hands of another director and actor would have come off as silly, but here it is startling and chilling. I don't know why Bobby Darin didn't continue his career with more dramatic performances like this but I'm grateful that this one is out there on video. It's one of the best performances that I've seen by an actor in anything!
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a psychiatrist (sidney Poitier) analyzes a neo-Nazi (bobby Darin)
dougbrode19 March 2006
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.
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Excellent social drama that doesn't opt for easy answers
Brian W. Fairbanks26 May 1999
Splendidly acted social drama produced by Stanley Kramer. As is usually the case with Kramer productions (except perhaps "It's A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World"), "Pressure Point" looks at society and the human condition, finding much to admire, but also much to deplore. Sidney Poitier is on the side of righteousness, playing a black prison psychiatrist whose ideals are challenged by his patient, a bigoted Nazi played by singer Bobby Darin.

The film is most impressive for its refusal to pander to an audience whose enjoyment might be enhanced if all the conflicts between the protagonists were resolved at the conclusion, but "Pressure Point" does not compromise its own integrity by pretending to provide easy answers to the questions it raises. Doctor and patient do not reach an understanding-- they do not embrace each other at the end, nor does the film suggest that society has benefitted from the encounter between two such disparate souls. Life simply goes on, and so do its troubles. "Pressure Point" makes its point subtly without a lot of sanctimonious preaching, and is more effective as a result.

The two stars are well matched with Poitier bringing his usual humanity and quiet pride to a role that does not place as much emphasis on his skin color as one would expect in a 1962 production. Darin is simply superb as Poitier's patient, and one can't help but admire the popular crooner for having had the courage to inhabit such an unappealing character at a time when he was still one of pop music's most prominent "teen idols" (and husband of America's sweetheart, Sandra Dee). The cinematography, music, and direction (by Hubert Cornfield) match the performances perfectly.
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Indeed Bobby D."s best dramatic performance
padrepio15018 June 2004
As a kid, I never failed to catch this movie when it was on TV. Bobby D. steals the show as a nazi punk with big time mental problems. He played a similar role in" Captain Newman, M.D." but this one had more meat to it.The boy actor who played Bobby D. as a child is Barry Gordon. There is an interesting Jack Benny connection here. In a 1961 Jack Benny Show, Jack was casting a TV special about his life story. A little boy comes in to audition and Jack is pleased that his parents aren't with him probably because he can get the kid for less money.Then the boy actor's "agent" (Barry Gordon) storms in and makes demands on the surprised Benny. Jack immediately signs up Barry to play him as a child instead of the kid actor. Little Barry wowed the studio audience with a letter- perfect imitation of Benny's famous"Well!" complete with black suit and tie and eyeglasses. A few years later Benny did an episode where he was casting a movie about his life and Bobby D. was the guest star. This time Jack wanted Bobby to play him as a young man! It should also be noted that James Anderson who plays Barry/Bobby's sadistic butcher father in "Pressure Point" is the same actor who played the sadistic racist father in "To KIll a Mockingbird" which like "Captain Newman, M.D." featured a young actor called Robert Duvall as a catatonic.Mr. Anderson was always excellent in a malevolent role. Downright menacing I'd say. If Bobby had lived he might have tied Sinatra in the "legendary all-around entertainer" category.
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Powerful Groundbreaking Film
Al15 March 2006
Warning: Spoilers
This film in 1962 was quite controversial. Even having an African-American as a sole lead of a film was quite rare and often worrisome to film studios concerned about making money. Sadly this is still an issue amongst film studios today. If you can't get Denzel Washington many films that would star a black character are shelved. Case in point, a few years back Spike Lee was trying to do a film based on Jackie Robinson, because he couldn't get Denzel, the film was temporarily shelved. Sydney Poitier was the lone black film star of the time. Sadly in the late 60's people would brand him an "Uncle Tom" who played the game of white society, but films like this and In the Heat of the Night among others must have been overlooked by his accusers.

"Pressure Point" is a powerful exploration into the circumstances that bring about race prejudice. I don't want to give away any of the rich turns and curves of this deep and exciting story that is filled with twist and turns. Mr. Poitier plays as a prison psychiatrist who is assigned to treat Bobby Darin who plays a mentally disturbed racist. These two bring vivid and truthful life to their disparate characters.

This film is compelling and sometimes hard to watch even today, but it is worth your time to check it out. Writer/Director Hubert Cornfield does a great job in telling this story and allowing these two actors and the rest of the cast to do work as a great ensemble.

A word about Bobby Darin. He was an excellent actor, very underrated and quite capable of working in comedy and drama. He accomplishes the very, very difficult act of allowing the audience to feel sympathy for an awful human being, a true lost soul, full of pain to the point of almost extinguishing his own humanity. Quite an accomplishment for the teen idol and singer. He had a life-long dream of eclipsing his idol Frank Sinatra as both a singer and actor. It would be splitting hairs to debate that, but no doubt the kid from Brooklyn gave "Old Blue Eyes" a run for his money. Too bad we lost him so soon.
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some really surreal moments
Gangsteroctopus30 June 2000
I wish that Hubert Cornfield, this film's director, had directed more films. I have seen this one and three others ("Plunder Road", "Lure of the Swamp" and "Night of the Following Day") and they all bear the stamp of a unique and very idiosyncratic vision. The flashback scenes of Bobby Darin's character in this film are truly unique and often quite disturbing, recalling Bunuel and Cocteau in their oneiric intensity. Definitely worth checking out if you are into offbeat and skewed cinema.
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What a movie.
JessicaBrandy13 June 2002
Bobby Darin has earned my utmost respect.

I've heard "Mack the Knife" and other snappy songs by him, but I only recently realized that he was an actor as well. I'll admit that this was not a rented movie or something I sought out, just one that I caught from the classic channel, but it was from beginning to end, no commercials or cuts and I cannot express how much admiration I have for Bobby Darin. He came from a weird life (a life only Jack Nicholson could relate to) and add to that a disease that shortened it, but Bobby Darin made his time around one to be remembered. This man's performance in 'Pressure Point' stunned me.

Darin plays a man who's childhood was not one to be envious of. This man's life became even less envious, because the story takes place inside a prison where he is a convict. Sidney Poitier plays the prisons psychiatrist and Darin is sent to him because he cannot sleep due to anxiety. Poitier's character has a hard time with Darin's due to the fact that he is extremely racist (a Nazi even) and is continually treating Poitier as though he understands how he feels is wrong but doesn't care (that is the attitude that I got from it). That he knows everything he feels is based on a lie but he simply does not allows him to be violent and hateful and that is why he does what he does. It's pretty scary and even though sometime you think, "goodness, I hate that sometimes what Darin's character is saying makes a little sense, what in the world is Poitier going to say to that?", that's when the doctor sets him straight.

I am a pretty emotional person and this movie really knows how to pull at them, even for an older movie, it has its 'I can't believe he said that' moments, but it was very impressive for Bobby and Sidney to do a movie with such a point, when others at the time were doing such cheesy things.
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A lot of great films owe their existence to such brilliant antecedents.
budmassey22 September 2001
Pressure Point is a taught drama that pits a Nazi prisoner against an black psychiatrist. The story, its presentation and direction are remarkably ahead of their time, and present an object lesson in good cinema that might have saved us such unfortunate and forgettable pretension as Memento if only people bothered studying cinema before inflicting their version of it on the moviegoing public.

Bobby Darin plays the charismatic young man who is imprisoned during WWII for Nazi activities in the U.S. Poitier is riveting as the doctor who treats him for insomnia, but discovers pathologies many times more horrifying. If you're looking to see this timeless conflict wrapped up neatly at the end or overinflated with empty gimickry, be warned. It doesn't happen. Thank goodness. Instead we see a very real ending that explains why events like the World Trade Center tragedy can still happen today.

A lot of great films; Prince of Tides, Silence of the Lambs, The Cell and many others owe their existence to such brilliant antecedents.
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Pathography of American Nazi.
Robert J. Maxwell24 February 2009
Warning: Spoilers
It's 1942. Sidney Poitier is a psychiatrist at a federal prison who takes on Bobby Darin as a patient. Darrin, a racist and a member of the German-American Bund, is in the slams for advocating the overthrow of the government.

Darrin, however, has no interest in having his head shrunk. It's just that he can't sleep and wants some pills to help him out. No dice, though. Poitier elicits from Darrin the personal history of a "psychopath," raised by a sadistic father and a clinging, seductive mother.

These scenes are shown in flashbacks in which Darrin is played by another actor, a boy of about ten or eleven. (Man, is that kid ugly.) The child soon sees that the only road to satisfaction and self esteem lies in having the kind of power that derives from a charismatic leader. The leader that Darrin chooses is you-know-who. The power is exercised over minorities like Jews and Negroes.

It doesn't end happily. Darrin is released over Poitier's objections and later gets into terminal trouble.

Robert Lindner was a psychiatrist who wrote the best-selling "The Fifty-Minute Hour" about a dozen or so of his cases, and this story is based on one of them. Lindner's approach was typical of the times. A patient's problems were rooted in childhood experiences and exacerbated by adult experiences. The drive for power was only compensating for internal feelings of weakness, the subconscious dread had to be brought to light, and so forth and so on. I won't criticize this psychoanalytic approach but it's pretty much discredited today.

Bobby Darrin does a decent job as the patient. He's far from stereotypically stupid, a bright guy in fact, if uneducated. He'd been a psychiatric patient before, in "Captain Newman, M.D.", and gave a shattering performance in at least one scene. And he may be just about right for this part -- small, a little chubby, and repugnant. (He may have been plumped out because of congestive heart failure.) Poitier is the soul of reason and restraint. He looks right and he never steps wrong. He can make even the most stilted lines of dialog sing. He was probably one of the best dramatic actors of his time in Hollywood. Comedy was outside his range.

I felt -- seeing this for only the second time since its original release -- that there were four weaknesses undermining the film's strengths. One was the direction. Too many close ups, for one thing, of Poitier's sweating face and Darrin's over-sized schnozzola. And the constant switching around of identities during Darrin's tale telling was confusing. Sometimes it's not Darrin in Poitier's office. It's that ugly kid. And sometimes the kid's voice issues from Darrin's mouth, or his MOTHER's voice. Good scene, though, when Dad, James Anderson, shoves a piece of liver in the boy's horrified face.

Didn't care for the musical score either. Weird and intrusive. Art direction looked as if it had been executed on an almost infinitesimally tiny budget, almost at the level of my annual income. The city, the store fronts, the brownstone apartments, looked like cheap outdoor sets. The interiors were spare boxes, mostly empty. Nothing seemed cluttered or lived in. And when Darrin is selling apples on a street corner during the depression, it's supposed to be mid-winter and he doesn't look cold -- and he's just had a nice close shave.

The fourth, somewhat bothersome element was the script itself. I understand that what has appeared in print needs some cosmetic surgery before it can be presented on screen. Events must be squashed together, or excised, or rearranged, or simplified. But simplification shades into oversimplification. Example: Darrin has had only one "meaningful relationship" with a girl. She's pretty too. She buys all his apples and then invites him into her home. It's a nice home, everything Darrin yearns for, but the girl's father throws him out as an unworthy suitor, and the family is Jewish. Thereafter, Bobby Darrin hates Jews. Well, I mean -- really. He's been a little slow on the uptake all along, having failed to notice the mezuzzah on the door jamb or the mogen David around her neck.

I'd like to be able to say that the film's message -- and, boy, is there a message -- is out dated because you have to look under boards to find anti-Semites today, but I can't. Oh, we don't have the German-American Bund or Father Coughlin anymore, and the KKK seems dormant for the moment. The voices of the right are more political than racist, but we still have Evangelicals who believe only they will be saved when The Rapture arrives, while Jews and Muslims and everybody else will go straight to hell. And every once in a while there is an outbreak of anti-Semitic vandalism, not just here but around the world, even in places we prefer to think of as enlightened.

It's an interesting story but it's also a misleading story. I don't want to get technical but a major effort was made sixty years ago to find proto-Fascists in California (Adorno et al, if you want to look it up) and the high-scoring subjects weren't psychopaths at all but little old ladies and retired dock workers. A similar study in a Texas city found that authoritarian personalities were affable community leaders who had risen to the top by conforming to the values of the people they grew up with. In other words, Fascism doesn't come only from psychopathology. It comes from some as-yet-unidentified social wellspring.
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Excellent two-man character study.
sultana-124 May 2001
Bobby Darin gives the performance of his career in this excellent if virtually unknown film. He is 100% believable as an American Nazi who tries to play psychiatrist Poitier like a violin with some success. Poitier is equally marvelous as the psychiatrist who must work extremely hard to take himself out of the process so he can concentrate on helping his patient. I was on the edge of my seat from beginning to end by both actors' incredibly sexy performances. Peter Falk is excellent in the small role of Poitier's young protege.
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Sidney Poitier meets Bobby Darin in "The Twilight Zone" (spoilers possible)
peter-m-koch28 July 2004
Warning: Spoilers
I find an interesting and significant parallel between "Pressure Point" and "Twilight Zone", specifically, the "Twilight Zone" episode, "He's Alive". Ernest Gold's score, using high, quavering theremin, to suggest insanity and panic, is extremely reminiscent of Van Cleave's music for the TZ episode, "Perchance To Dream", enough to make me check that Van Cleave and Gold were not one and the same (they're not !) The dark, urban, high contrast cinematography of the film is also very Twilight-Zone like.

The first anti-Jewish speech that the Darin character is shown listening to has an odd Twilight-Zonish twist in it : "They [Jews] want to take the nails and crucify him all over again !" At first you think he's talking about Jesus Christ, and is about to denounce Jews as "Christ-killers", but then you hear he's really talking about Adolf Hitler ! It's like in "The Twilight Zone" when you learn that "To Serve Man" is a cookbook !

Both "Pressure Point" and "He's Alive" are both, at least in part, a dialogue between two men : an American Nazi, and a man who represents Judeo-Christian morality. Both American Nazis were abused children, "slammed" around by drunken fathers, with cowardly, weak, and/or mentally absent mothers. Both, as children and as adults, "cry on the couches of" the men representing morality. In "Pressure Point", it is the couch of the prison psychiatrist played so well by Poitier. In "He's Alive", it is the living room couch of Ernst Ganz, an elderly Jewish concentration camp survivor, played by Austrian actor Ludwig Donath, who lets Peter Vollmer, the young American neo-Nazi, played by Dennis Hopper, stay the night in his home, however much he despises Peter's views.

Both American Nazis boast, "There's no stopping us !", but both are stopped, and told so, by the men representing morality. The prison psychiatrist tells the Darin character, "We stopped you, didn't we ?". Later, when the Darin character wheedles his way out of the prison on parole, by being a model prisoner, the doctor roars at him, "You can walk out of here, but you are going NOWHERE ! NOW GET OUT !" He does, and is later hanged for beating a stranger to death. Ganz tells Vollmer, after denouncing him before his previously rapt audience, "An old man stopped you tonight, with a few words. He stopped you with the truth !"

In an odd coincidence, actor Howard Caine appears in both stories. In "Pressure Point", he is the bartender / owner in whose bar the Darin character and his construction crew play their destructive game of "Tic Tac Toe". In "He's Alive", Caine plays Nick Bloss, a devoted but none-too-bright neo-Nazi, whom Peter Vollmer orders loyal deputy Frank to murder, so as to make a martyr out of him for their movement to advance.

Both "Pressure Point" and "He's Alive" de-construct Nazism by showing it capturing, and being a haven for, immature, insecure, desperate, and mentally and emotionally unstable people. In the words of Ernst Ganz in "He's Alive" : "Problem children ! Sick, sad neurotics, who take applause like a needle !" The psychiatrist played by Poitier repeatedly uses the term "psychopath" in referring to the Nazis.

There is an explanation of the dynamic of ever-growing American Nazi membership in both "Pressure Point" and "He's Alive". In the film, it is the Darin character explaining to the black psychiatrist how members bring other members, with ever-increasing financial support. In the TZ episode, it is Vollmer's shadowy advisor and benefactor explaining how to move and excite a mob.
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Intolerance and Stress
Claudio Carvalho16 October 2012
When a young psychiatrist (Peter Falk) comes to his Afro-American chief (Sidney Poitier) to tell that he can not bear a thirteen year-old patient, the doctor discloses a similar experience he had with a patient when he was a rookie and worked as prison psychiatrist.

In 1942, the doctor is assigned to give psychiatric treatment and evaluate a dangerous American Nazi patient (Bobby Darin) accused of sedition. The racist patient has nightmares and insomnia and the doctor analyzes him along eighteen months, finding the reason of his disturbance. The patient convinces the board of direction that he deserves to be on probation but the doctor is reluctant and diagnoses that the patient has only resolved his sleeping problem but is still a despicable bigoted person.

"Pressure Point" is a theatrical film of intolerance and stress, dated in 2012, but nevertheless a great movie. I do not know how accurate is the psychiatric treatment, but the duel between Bobby Darin and Sidney Poitier is outstanding, both performing victims with strong characters – the patient, son of an abusive father that made him a bigot sadist and the doctor, a winner in a racist society. My vote is seven.

Title (Brazil): "Tormentos da Alma" ("Torments of the Soul")
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Relatively Overdone Melodrama Deals with the Paranoid Delusions of a Truly Hateful Convict
Ed Uyeshima17 March 2008
Although the genesis of hate crimes is worthy of a film treatment, this heavy-handed 1962 melodrama is weighed down by too many theatrical flourishes to be as genuinely powerful as was once intended. Some critics at the time praised the bravery of such an undertaking, but one can see in hindsight how director Hubert Cornfield, who co-wrote the screenplay with Robert Lindner, doesn't seem to trust the basic material enough to provide a more straightforward telling of the case history of a psychopathic convict who hates non-Aryans with a virulent passion. To further depersonalize the plot, he doesn't even give the characters proper names. As a typically austere Stanley Kramer production, it has the earmarks of the high-minded social consciousness prevalent in the comparatively better films he made during this period - 1959's "On the Beach" about nuclear disarmament, 1961's "Judgment at Nuremberg" about the Nazi atrocities and 1963's "A Child Is Waiting" about mental retardation.

As a framing device for the central story, a chief psychiatrist is confronted by a frustrated staff doctor threatening to resign due to the seeming hopelessness of getting through to an anti-white black patient. Hoping to convince the younger doctor not to give up, the psychiatrist - who happens to be black - flashes back to a similarly difficult case he handled during WWII when he was forced to treat a Nazi supporter who was in jail for sedition. The convict is a vicious racist and anti-Semitic, who is suffering from a sleep disorder and blackouts. The bulk of the movie is the dialogue between the two over the course of the convict's three-year sentence. What emerges is a portrait of a pathetic man who had a miserable childhood that led to random acts of sadism and ultimately his membership in the American Nazi (Bund) party.

Fantasy sequences and documentary footage are liberally used to emphasize the convict's malignant nature with melodramatic excess. The film's turning point is the decision to release the unrepentant convict, which pits the heretofore becalmed psychiatrist against the prison authorities convinced he should be paroled. As late as this comes in the movie, it's the only point where Sidney Poitier's performance as the psychiatrist comes alive. In fact, his fury is so characteristically electrifying that he replicated the scene on a more subtle level in the father-son showdown in Kramer's later "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner". As the convict, Bobby Darin gets the showier role, and while he is up to the challenge, he doesn't transcend it either. Peter Falk shows up briefly in the present-day scenes, while Carl Benton Reid adds some dimension to his small role as the chief medical officer. It all ends anti-climactically. The 2004 DVD offers no significant extras.
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"Certifiably insane..."
moonspinner554 March 2008
Strikingly designed and photographed melodrama about racial tensions in America, one of only a handful of major studio films to show Americans being swept up in Nazi propaganda and connecting with it. A black psychiatric doctor recalls to his colleague a case from the 1940s which he almost gave up on, that of a racist and Jew-hating prisoner entangled in hate-mongering. The narrative is laden with flashbacks, but they are very stylishly presented, and director Hubert Cornfield (who also co-wrote the screenplay with S. Lee Pogostin, from Robert Lindner's short story) keeps the tension prickly and unsettling. Pugnacious Bobby Darin does a lot of spouting off as the racist, though his angry words (coming strictly from his character's point of view) are provocative; he needles doctor Sidney Poitier, literally getting under his skin, yet we can see he's a liar who won't listen to reason--or learn anything long-lasting from his sessions. So what is the point of all this? Is it that you shouldn't give up on somebody, even though you realize you're not going to break through to them, that they'll be just as rotten now as they were a year ago? As an actors' piece, the film is a worthwhile showcase for two terrific performers. As a think-piece, it certainly has the courage of its convictions. As an entertainment, it's a crackpot venture. **1/2 from ****
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Pushes His Buttons
bkoganbing9 March 2009
Reflecting back on another case during the days of World War II, psychiatrist Sidney Poitier is telling colleague Peter Falk not to give up on a case he has with racial differences between him and the patient in Pressure Point. Science and the doctor's obligation to render assistance cancel all things out.

Twenty years back from the Civil Rights era, at its height when Pressure Point was made, back to World War II Poitier is a prison psychiatrist who gets one bad patient. It's Bobby Darin who had never been seen like this on film, as a racist punk who belongs to the German American Bund. Although Darin and his band of thugs have done some really violent crimes, some of which we see in flashback, it's for sedition that he's been arrested.

Still a recurring nightmare brings him to the couch in Poitier's office and the two of them develop a curious relationship. Darin pushes all of Poitier's buttons, in fact he's a pretty loathsome type. Curing his nightmares will not necessarily make him one that will socially adjust back in society.

Film Historians have called Poitier things like Saint Sidney for the heroic good roles he played back in the day as the first black leading man in mainstream films. He might just have qualified for it here, even more than in his film debut No Way Out dealing with another racist criminal Richard Widmark, that time as a medical doctor.

It was Darin who showed the acting chops here that were never displayed before. He was nominated for his performance as a Best Supporting Actor in Captain Newman, MD., personally I think this is his best screen work.

Pressure Point is a two person work, the rest of the cast merely serves as background figures. I'm wondering though why someone like Peter Falk consented to a role that's confined to two scenes at the beginning and the end with no real opportunity for him to display his talents. Still for fans of Poitier or Darin or both this is a chance to see them both at their best.
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nice experience, and relevant
starman200324 February 2004
I never tire of seeing the very start of this film, when they're giving the credits. Intersecting white bars and eerie sounds make it seem you're in for the scariest movie ever made. And this movie has some pretty intense and bizarre scenes. The end, though, is quite moving and touching. The young shrink who despairs of ever getting through to a hostile black boy is inspired by the Doctor's tale of what he went through 20 years earlier. The lesson is just as relevant today as when this movie was made almost half a century ago: It can be very difficult for the different races to get along, but we've just got to keep trying.
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starman200310 September 2003
The title "pressure point" reflects the strain the doctor was under while dealing with an intelligent racist. At one point the patient said in effect that blacks wouldn't achieve equality for "another 5500 years." But ironically the progress of blacks was greatly accelerated after the war, largely because of people like the patient. The 1942-43 period (i.e. when doctor and patient grappled)witnessed the turning point of the war, and beginning of the end of the Nazis. Their defeat meant the utter discrediting of the idea of racial superiority, which greatly aided the cause of minorities in the postwar period.
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fabulous performance by Bobby Darin
Morning Star4 November 2002
Pressure Point is a very interesting 60's movie. Stanley Kramer produced it, but thankfully he didn't direct it so it is a much more cinematic visually and less stiff and preachy than the films he did direct. There are many interesting visual effects in the film during the childhood fashbacks especially that really make this film stand out. And the performance by Bobby Darin (who was a well known political liberal) is amazing. He's the man you love to hate in this film. A hatefilled Nazi, but before they reveal this they show the audience what a nightmarish childhood he had that made him the way he is when he matures. And some of the things he says to the doctor (Poitier) are very hardhitting and seem to be very true really, such as when he talks about Poitier's love for America and how it didn't make sense considering how blacks were really treated in the USA in the 1940's when the film is set. Excellent performances throughout the film, a gritty but real message and intriguing surrealistic sequences made Pressure POint a film very worth seeing!
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The Great Bobby Darin!!!
Richard O'Donnell21 October 2006
This is one of the greatest films of all time, and Bobby Darin was truly a masterful artist! I still watch, or, more accurately, study, his inspiringly gifted performance! Nobody else could have done any more to honor the part he played, just as he had been accompanied by the most impressively, realistically believable cast; but particularly in the flashback scenes, going back to his childhood. Not only must the acting be applauded as top-notch, but also every aspect of the strictly technical contributions; all woven together into such a superlative art form, as well as a deeply educational experience. . . . The writers, in particular, very cogently nailed down one of the most compelling themes of the film; where Darin points out, to Poitier, that America has the latter so confused that he continues to sing, "My country, 'Tis of Thee," while they're walking all over him! Poitier's most sensitive "Pressure Point" is really touched by that; and, despite the profoundest truths Poitier utilizes, to "neutralize" this very observation, one can plainly see the extent to which he is very dishonestly, with himself, and resentfully, victimizingly attempting to "cope" with it! Even the other psychiatrists at the prison only served to confirm the truth of Darin's contention; which remains just as true-in-itself, regardless of how disingenuously Darin proceeded to capitalize upon it! . . . As with James Dean, it "almost" feels "as if" certain people are symbolically fated to die young, as the kind who are a bit too pure for this world; and, thus, Divinely-ordained for protection from so many of its characteristically corrupting influences (Isaiah 57:1-2). Moreover, their early deaths sometimes serve the equally constructive purpose of "showcasing" them for the kind of "immortality," to popular perception, which should act, much more than it ordinarily does, to the intended benefit of all, exactly as Darin had so deservedly and successfully wished! . . . At any rate, Bobby Darin has made an everlasting imprint upon me! Had he been born for nothing but this role, it would have been no less superlatively worthy of the effort! And, speaking, again, of the good dying young, perhaps even "Giant" had served as a kind of "hypothetical preview" of what could have happened to Dean; although I still wish, as much as they both would have, that Divine Providence had left them in our midst just a little longer. . . . The only other currently relevant figure I'll explicitly mention here is Elvis Presley, who held his own, in a most magnificently meaningful way, with early greats such as "Wild in the Country," and, also, as Deke Rivers, in "Loving You!" As with Brando, however, Presley had been "showcased," much less "hypothetically," after the fashion of "Giant!" It would be a big mistake to regard any of these popularly-immortalized legends as mere accidents . . . Yet, to what Purpose as well as Design? Dostoyevsky said it one way, in just a single stroke: "If there is no God, then all is permissible!" Even Nietzsche, who claimed Dostoyevsky was one of the very few from whom he had anything to learn, very tragically, fatalistically took extra special note, no doubt, of this particular observation; until finally collapsing, about twelve years before his very end; from the most strenuously-insoluble dilemma; and the scathing "moralic acid," as he called it, which also helped to purifyingly burn his own most blessedly-agonizing soul to the very marrow; as he quite symbolically, surrogately, foreshadowingly, prophetically bore the sins of the shortly-upcoming Hitler!!!--Of whom Richard Basehart was so magnificently the best, despite even some of the otherwise most difficult quality of competition available, but who nevertheless shouldn't have even bothered, here!!! Try General Tanz (Peter O'Toole), along with Wolf Larsen (Edward G. Robinson), and even a special role by Adam West; if you care to understand why certain kinds of people are so much closer as well as further away from God than most, who feel so uniquely qualified to judge them! . . . Nietzsche also went into his coma the same year Hitler had been born, just as they had both died at "virtually" the same age! But Hitler was only the main symbol, predestined to go down tragically in flames. There were, however, others, whom Nietzsche meant more accurately. Castro was a better example, and Elmer Gantry even better yet, along with Billy Jack; but John W. Burns ("Jack," for short) shall always be one of my favorite—cowboys!—Or, even more accurately—my very favorite!--Just as Superman himself, for that matter, was Zarathustra's kind of--Superman--too!!! But, then, Nietzsche, by his own admission, had also been too much of a poetically romantic dreamer, concerning every kind of possibility short only of Great Caesar's Ghost; despite even his acute awareness that there are fundamentally, ultimately only one of two ways to go, particularly into the twentieth century; including what could even have become of a Lucas McCain, in the form of The Mad Bomber!--Although, had anyone really harmed Mark, they would have had him to deal with, even in the nineteenth!!!
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An overlooked gem of a psychological drama
Bluesman17 August 2016
I had 'Pressure Point' on my watchlist for a few years, and now that it is available in HD, I finally watched it. With the great Sidney Poitier and Bobby Darin in the lead roles and the inimitable Peter Falk in a small supporting role, my expectations of this movie were quite high. Those expectations were not only met but exceeded.

'Pressure Point' is a great psychological drama about a mentally disturbed, racist inmate, who is excellently portrayed by Bobby Darin, and also a sociological study of America in the early 1940s and the political climate at the time. Sidney Poitier plays a psychologist who tries to free his patient from his Nazi ideologies in order to re-integrate him into society. The movie includes a number of surreal elements in the scenes in which the patient talks about his troubled childhood with an alcoholic, vicious father and a helpless, needy mother, which are used to great effect. Barry Gordon is fantastic as the patient in his younger days. Hubert Cornfield's direction is very good and there are many stylish looking shots filmed from interesting angles (for instance from the perspective of a sink or from the ceiling), and also some longer tracking shots. I was very impressed with the unusually stylish look for this type of movie. Ernest Gold's jazzy score is also worthy of note.

'Pressure Point' seems to be quite an obscure movie these days and I really wonder why it has been so overlooked for decades. It's a hidden gem that is very well directed and includes excellent performances from the whole cast, especially Sidney Poitier, Bobby Darin and Barry Gordon. The movie certainly deserves much more recognition.
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This film shows what hate can do to any person
bobbobwhite14 August 2009
A later racial-themed movie summed it up best for me.... "has your hate made your life any better?" It never does, for anyone.

Bobby Darin was truly superlative in this racial drama as an abject racist convict undergoing psychiatric treatment in prison who lived and suffered with the false positives that a racist attitude toward the world can sometimes give a true believer. But he was also smart enough to know that his life and health were being ruined by an internal conflict over these beliefs, but he was powerless to purge his beliefs even if it cured his health problems. He was determined to hold onto the damaging beliefs that were killing him from the inside out, as they did provide him a convenient way to express internal hatred caused by a terrible and abusive childhood and perhaps severely flawed family genetics that did lead to his ingnominious demise years later while acting out his racial hatred. That internal conflict was the crux of the film and the largest reason for its critical success.....we all have some of that same damaging thing in us, no matter our race, and it always effects our lives for the worse in varying degrees. And, it only improves when our racial tolerance improves. It is as clearcut as that, and this point was well made by the film's end.

Sidney Poitier played his typically good, outraged-but-controlled-and-dignified-through-all-the-insults self as the convict's prison psychiatrist. Direction was outstanding, as was the very dramatic musical track, and the chosen black and white style was the perfect expression for the huge contrast in the life opinions shown. But, Bobby Darin was the star here, as he showed the strong acting talent that made me so sorry he was lost to us so early. He could have been one of the greats.

This film was ahead of its time but is still important today, and is also one of the best made concerning this always sensitive subject.
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How dealing with racial prejudice is tantamount to trying to cure allergies and chemical intolerance's
mozli18 September 2008
This old gem delivers. Sidney in his classic mode of a man too smart for his own good. Here he tries to cure a man who's extremely damaged. Because the man's problem is such that he's almost unapproachable for this particular doctor the tension is heightened. It is a great two character piece. There are flashbacks and they are pretty chilling. Tic Tac Toe is twisted in a way I've never witnessed before. Its the last segment of the film when it becomes clear that the powers that be aren't willing to keep the man under the doctor's care where Poitier's character starts to lose it. I personally understand his frustration but certain individuals cannot be "cured" of their feelings and that those emotions are hard wired into their view of the world. The best one can do is keep an eye on an individuals like that and stop them if they start to act out negatively. One of the interesting side stories is the casting. Robert Redford was up for this role. Very interesting. I could also imagine Dennis Hopper, Peter Fonda, Marlon Brando and Dean Stockwell.
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Sidney Poitier's punch line (spoilers possible)
peter-m-koch30 July 2004
Warning: Spoilers
What follows is the approximate wording of the Sidney Poitier character's rebuttal to the racism and anatagonism of the American Nazi played by Bobby Darin :

"Now let me tell you something ! This is my country ! This is where I've done what I've done ! And if there were a million cruds like you, all sick like you, all shouting down, "Destroy ! Degrade !", and, if there were twenty million more sick enough to listen to you, you are still gonna lose, because there is something in this country, so big, so strong, that you don't even know, that can take it from all of you and still nail you into the ground ! You are walking out of here but YOU ARE GOING NOWHERE ! NOW GET OUT ! GET OUT !"

One more similarity between the Bobby Darin character and the American neo-Nazi in the Twilight Zone episode "He's Alive" is that both say that a man must act according to what he believes. The Darin character adds that, if he doesn't, either he's no good, or his beliefs are no good.

This is not to suggest that Serling plagiarized the movie script or even the central idea, but to show the strengths in both stories by showing their similarities.
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T Y12 October 2008
Warning: Spoilers
Pressure Point has a lot of strikes against it, found in many self-important "issue pictures" of the time (Three faces of Eve, Member of the Wedding, nearly everything by Kazan). It's a bad movie. Despite a startling performance by Bobby Darrin.

The problems are the drama-killing book-ends that frame the movie; the ponderous, purposeful, oh-so-serious approach to the story; Sydney Poitier burdened by the usual racism-repairing agenda. (What on earth is that accent of his?) The movie is interesting where it isn't trying to be. In the final détente instead of a Poitier triumph. In the matter-of-fact discharging of all of Bobby Darrin's threat. His racist schemes, which would in other movies provide an explosive climax that shakes Poitier to his foundation, instead is treated perfunctorily, as a tempest in a teapot, discharged with a ten word summary. That's dramatic, in that it's surprising and goes against the rather heavy-handed dramatic standards of the time.
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Great acting
HotToastyRag18 November 2017
Bobby Darin, famous for his singing, proved his acting chops in Captain Newman, M.D. as a shell-shocked soldier and earned an Oscar nomination. Two years earlier, he gave another fantastic performance in Pressure Point. Once again, he's in a psychiatric hospital, but not because of traumatic war experiences. He's a violent, racist psychopath—and very convincing!

In the film, Peter Faulk comes to a gray-headed Sidney Poitier asking for advice. He's new to the hospital, and he's having trouble with a patient. Helping by example, Sidney recounts a story of when he was a young doctor and also had trouble with a patient. The majority of the film is the flashback sequence involving a young Sidney and his troubled patient Bobby. Bobby isn't thrilled to have a black doctor, and Sidney isn't thrilled to be verbally abused every time they have a session. But he's a doctor, and deep down, he wants to help.

You might not actually like this movie, or you might find it dated, but you will be able to appreciate the acting. Bobby sheds his nice-guy image so thoroughly, if you didn't know him you'd probably hate him from this movie. Sidney embodies the title, giving the performance he does so well: taking and taking and taking until the "pressure point" is reached. If you like good acting, Stanley Kramer films, or racially tense films of the 1960s, this is a great one to watch. Rent it with No Way Out for a great double feature!
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