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A woman secretly suffering from kleptomania is hypnotized in an effort to cure her condition. Soon afterwards, she is found at the scene of a murder with no memory of how she got there and seemingly no way to prove her innocence.
In 1456, French king Charles VII recalls the story of how he met the 17 year-old peasant girl Joan of Arc, entrusted her with the command of the French Army and ultimately burned her at the stake as a heretic.
Ann Lake has recently settled in England 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? Written by
The United States Production Code, which was only very slowly being eroded during the period when "Bunny Lake Is Missing" was being made, stipulated that "the subject of abortion shall be discouraged, shall never be more than suggested, and when referred to shall be condemned. It must never be treated lightly, or made the subject of comedy. Abortion shall never be shown explicitly or by inference, and a story must not indicate that an abortion has been performed, the word 'abortion' shall not be used." Ann Lake speaks quite forthrightly and neutrally with Superintendent Newhouse about the fact that she had considered having an abortion, though she did ultimately choose to give birth to her daughter, Bunny. Contrary to the strictures of the production code, Ann even uses the word "abortion" during that conversation. A 2015 New York Times article about this movie by critic J. Hoberman said that this movie was likely "the first studio release to employ the forbidden word 'abortion.'" See more »
The police are seen leading two dogs around the garden and letting them sniff and search but as the mother does not have anything belonging to the child for them to sniff, what scent are they following? See more »
She may be a few minutes late. Will you please wait for her?
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The names in the opening credits are revealed by a hand tearing away parts of the black background as if it were paper, revealing the names printed beneath on a white background. See more »
I'm not a huge fan of Preminger - many of his films from 1950 forward are pretty bad (e.g. "Saint Joan," "Exodus," "In Harms Way," "Hurry, Sundown") or don't date well (e.g. "Man With The Golden Arm," "Such Good Friends").
But "Bunny Lake Is Missing" is a bright spot in his later work. I first saw this on TV back in the early 70's and then again in a 16mm pan-and-scan print - and enjoyed it. But it wasn't until I saw it in a 35mm widescreen print that I could appreciate Preminger's expert use of the widescreen space, which gave "Bunny Lake" added dimension.
"Bunny Lake" isn't a great thriller, but it's a good one. The story itself doesn't rise above a certain amount of contrivance, but the performances are mostly solid enough to keep you glued to the screen until the suspenseful climax. Best are Olivier, beautifully restrained as the chief inspector, Lynley as the frantic heroine, and Martita Hunt as the eccentric owner of the school where Bunny first goes missing. As Lynley's brother whose feelings for his sister are almost incestuous, Kier Dullea does well walking a tightrope between normal brotherly concern and something darker, but occasionally overdoes his role.
Unfortunately, Preminger can't help but indulge his desire to titillate and shock with the character played by Noel Coward. Watching the playwright/actor caress his face with a leather whip handle (a scene not in the original novel, I believe), is a piece of vulgarity that will produce more adolescent giggles than gasps.
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