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Reviews & Ratings for
Crescendo More at IMDbPro »

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10 out of 10 people found the following review useful:

CRESCENDO is worth a look if you can find it

Author: john-852 from Somerville, Mass
22 June 2005

This is a thriller from England's Hammer studios and not a TV movie as some comments have suggested. A woman arrives at a country estate to write a thesis on a dead classical composer. While she's there, she becomes involved in a twisted tale involving infidelity and murder and finds her own life in jeopardy. Warner Brothers released this uncut and rated R but later cut it down to PG and used it on double bills with Dracula AD 72 and WHEN DINOSAURS RULED THE EARTH. WHEN DINOSAURS was cut down to a G rating and seeing as Warner's is releasing Dracula AD later this year, maybe they can get around to their other remaining Hammer properties. It would be great to see CRESCENDO AND DINOSAURS get uncut R1 DVD releases.

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9 out of 11 people found the following review useful:

Decent movie, but very unkindly cut

Author: lazarillo from Denver, Colorado and Santiago, Chile
26 August 2009

Although Britain's Hammer Films is mostly known for their Gothic horrors (Frankenstein, Dracula, etc.), they also had a long series of "psycho" movies from "Scream of Fear" in 1962 to "Straight On 'til Morning" in 1973, which were in many ways even better (they definitely were by the 1970's) than their Gothics. This movie came fairly late in the cycle and perhaps isn't the best, but it is pretty decent. The story, as another reviewer said, is definitely "unusual". It isn't necessarily good and it isn't remotely believable, but it is certainly unusual. An American nurse (Stefanie Powers)comes to a secluded English mansion to care for the invalid adult son of a famous deceased composer. Right away she knows something is amiss. The sultry maid (Jane LaPortare)seems to have the guy addicted to drugs (and sex with her) and is using them to cruelly manipulate him. And SOMEBODY keeps playing the dead composer's music. . .The end is pretty absurd, but fun--and definitely surprising.

I had one big problem with this though. Apparently, they originally filmed this with some nude scenes by Stefanie Powers. Americans of a certain age will definitely remember Powers from the early 80's TV series "Hart to Hart" where she and Robert Wagner played husband-and-wife detectives. As Lionel Stander (who played the couple's butler "Max") said of her every week in the opening narration of the show: "She's GORGEOUS!!"-- which had to be the biggest understatement in the history of television. Anyway, some sick, depraved person seemed to have cut out her alleged nude scenes in the version I saw. Maybe some horny projectionist clipped them out and took them home for his, personal, um, use, but more likely it was someone trying to "protect society" (from what, God only knows). LaPortare (who is attractive, but a mere mortal compared to Powers) also seems to have received some unkind cuts, but she does have a brief nude swimming scene.

I don't mean to go on about this. It's still a worthwhile movie, but WHY must people do stuff like this?!

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5 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

Worth A Look At !

Author: misterfarkyharse from United Kingdom
13 May 2008

This is one of those films that rarely gets a good review. In fact it's been pretty much forgotten! It probably isn't one of Hammer's greatest achievements but it is by no means one of the worst. There are some rather uneventful scenes but I think they add to the suspense. The photography is very effective in places and the setting is quite haunting in a picturesque kind of way. The music which obviously is a major part of the story also adds to the more sinister scenes. The best performance comes from the seductive and eccentric maid, Lilliane (played by Jane Lapotaire) and Joss Ackland also puts in a fine performance as Carter (the butler/minder). It is not available on DVD and probably never will be, so if it's ever shown on TV it's certainly worth a look at.

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6 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

Disappointing Hammer thriller

Author: The_Void from Beverley Hills, England
24 March 2008

Hammer studios were obviously most famous for their horror flicks, but they did produce some work in other genres; and the thriller genre was one of their strongest outside horror, especially during the sixties with films such as Paranoiac and A Taste of Fear. I had rather high hopes for this one going into it despite its poor reputation simply for the fact that Hammer produced it and they have produced some good thrillers; such as those mentioned, but unfortunately it would seem that the studio's success in this genre didn't continue into the seventies as Crescendo, despite some good moments and positive elements, is a largely lacklustre thriller. The plot focuses on a young girl who goes to stay at a house in France to help her with a thesis. The house used to belong to a famous music composer but is now owned by his wife and son after the composer's death. The girl soon gets to meet the family as well as the staff and soon it becomes apparent that not everything is as it should be; mostly because everyone in the house is a weirdo!

The film's main problem is that it largely fails to be interesting; the story is derivative and not all that interesting anyway, and this isn't compensated for by the characters (who are also largely uninteresting) so we end up with a film that doesn't fit the 'thriller' bill very well. Most of the film takes place in an old, large house; although director Alan Gibson doesn't really make best use of this in terms of atmosphere. The director would go on to make the latter two films in the popular Dracula series - the fun Dracula A.D. 1972 and the disappointing Satanic Rites of Dracula and both of these lacked atmosphere too. Crescendo was apparently made for TV and this is pretty obvious as it's all quite tame; there are actually a few murders in this film but we never get to see much blood and they're not very brutal. Nobody in the cast particularly stands out either; Stefanie Powers is the biggest standout in the lead role, though not particularly for her performance. There is a twist at the end which comes as something of a surprise, but as the build up to it is quite dull; the twist doesn't come off all that well. Overall, I can't say I enjoyed this film much and I'd only recommend it to Hammer Horror completists.

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

never mind the plot - feel the MUSIC...

Author: morpheusatloppers from Thailand
3 January 2010

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

It's all been said. This movie was NOT made for TV - it was one of Hammer's many non-horror pictures (Hammer also made musicals, comedies and as here, psychological thrillers) and is totally devoid of Hammer's usual Gothic style.

The plot is derivative and given its year of production, contains obligatory nudity (thanfully, the UNCUT version was always shown on UK TV - Ms Powers - nice - moving on). But this film should be savoured for its MUSIC.

It has a great re-occurring track that features then-famous British jazz tenor-sax player, Tubby Hayes. He also turns up in Amicus' "Dr Terror's House Of Horrors" - he was booked to do the score - it never happened, but he does feature, blowing up a storm in a nightclub scene.

Anyhoo, while the man doesn't APPEAR in Crescendo, his music is all OVER it - reason enough to give it a look.

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Busy but derivative Hammer thriller.

Author: Jonathon Dabell ( from Todmorden, England
24 March 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

In musical terms, a crescendo is an increase in intensity as a piece nears its end. In this little-seen Hammer thriller from 1970, the title has a double meaning – there's the musical meaning as just described, but there's also the fact that the film-makers try to intensify the film's suspense and air of mystery as it draws to its climax. Directed by Alan Gibson, and written by Hammer regulars Jimmy Sangster and Alfred Shaughnessy, this busy thriller is a departure from the Gothic horror entries most associated with the studio. It feels much more akin to a Hitchcock-style piece, with Psycho the most obvious source of inspiration.

Music student Susan Roberts (Stephanie Powers) visits the home of a deceased composer in order to write a thesis on his life and works. The home is an elegant but remote villa in France, peopled by the various family members and housekeepers of the dead man. It isn't long before Susan realises that she is surrounded by some pretty weird characters. The composer's widow Danielle (Margaretta Scott), the nymphomaniac housemaid Lillianne (Jane Lapotaire), and the sinister butler Carter (Joss Ackland) in particular seem strange. But at least the composer's son Georges (James Olson) – a wheelchair-bound drug addict – offers a sense of normality to the place, as he helps Susan through her first days. Alas, even Georges turns out to have disturbing demons of his own – there's his recurring nightmare about making love to a rotting corpse for starters, not to mention the fact that his disability seems to come and go when it pleases. Weirder still, his outlandish nightmares usually end with him being shot by an identical double who creeps up on him with a shot-gun. Seems Georges' drug-fuelled mind is plagued by some pretty bizarre desires and phobias. Soon enough, Susan realises she is effectively the prisoner of these assorted junkies and weirdos – but her predicament gets even scarier when the villa is plunged into panic courtesy of a series of gruesome murders.

Crescendo features some sex and drug abuse that was daring for the time of its release (though time has certainly made such scenes seem dated). Apart from that, it is fairly derivative stuff – the links with Psycho (sane but vulnerable female finds herself at the mercy of weird person/people with identity issues) are there for all to see. Heck, Crescendo even borrows liberally from earlier Hammer pictures (Paranoiac and Maniac, for instance), therefore making itself almost a rip-off of a rip-off! The performances are OK, with Powers holding things together quite well as the only truly normal character with whom the audience can identify. Debutant Jane Lapotaire spends a good deal of the film naked, but her character is so unattractive and irritating that it makes her nudity feel peculiarly un-erotic. Olson handles the role of the disabled drug addict reasonably well. If you're a veteran of these kinds of movies, you might see the twist coming before it arrives, but others will probably be pleasantly surprised by the film's climactic ingenuity. On the whole, Crescendo is passable but unremarkable fare – it's a hard one to track down, but is probably worth a look if you can find it.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

The Spirit of Satan.

Author: JohnRouseMerriottChard from United Kingdom
6 April 2014

Crescendo is directed by Alan Gibson and written by Alfred Shaughnessy and Jimmy Sangster. It stars Stefanie Powers, James Olson, Margaretta Scott, Jane Lapotaire and Joss Ackland. Music is by Malcolm Williamson and cinematography by Paul Beeson.

Susan Roberts (Powers) travels to the South of France to stay with the Ryman family as she researches the work of late composer Henry Ryman for her thesis. Once there at the villa, Susan finds that the remaining family members are a little strange…

Out of Hammer Films, Crescendo came at the end of the studio's cycle of psycho-thrillers that had begun so magnificently with Taste of Fear in 1961. Filmed in Technicolor, Crescendo has more than a passing resemblance to Taste of Fear. We are in a remote French villa in the company of some shifty characters. A wheelchair features prominently, there's spooky goings on, skeletons in the closet and our lead lady who is the outsider at the villa is in grave danger. So it's Taste of Fear but in colour then!

Crescendo is not a great film, it's ponderously paced by Gibson, meandering through the first half set up and it's all a bit too obvious as to what is going to unravel. That said, the finale is a good pay off in its construction, the Ryman villa set is suitably designed for some creepy shenanigans, while the colour photography is deliciously lurid with the zesty oranges and ocean greens particularly striking the requisite campo composition.

Then there's the cast! Powers is just dandy, having had her trial run in the disappointing Die! Die! My Darling! in 1965, she hits the required "woman in confused peril" notes even though the script does her absolutely no favours. Olson gets to don the worst hair cut in Hammer history as Georges, but the character is pungent with emotional disturbances. Wheelchair bound and having a penchant for hard drugs administered by the sultry maid…

Ah yes! Lapotaire as the housemaid Lillianne, she steams up the screen with her teasing sexuality, positively revelling in her ability to have poor Georges eating out of her hand. Scott handles the batty Ryman matriarch well enough, while Ackland does a damn fine Lurch impression. The film has some qualities that put it above average, but it's a bit too bloodless to be a must see horror film, and much too laborious to be a thriller. It sits in some sort of Hammer Film purgatory, a picture that asks you to take the rough with the smooth. But all things considered, you probably should watch Taste of Fear instead. 6/10

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good intentions

Author: Vincentiu from Romania
7 March 2014

a film of good intentions. that is all. and it is not correct to search a guilty or to imagine a better version. because it represents only a demonstration of a period sensitivity and manner to realize a decent Gothic film. sure, the script seems have many possibilities and the acting is far to be high. but the good intentions are obvious. and the desire to translate on screen the nuances of story in the best manner. but this ambition is the cage for movie. so, after the long chain of disappointment, remains only the beginning and the end as reasonable parts. because the confusion is heavy mist and the clichés are so many. a film for fans of genre. that is all.

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CRESCENDO (Alan Gibson, 1970) **1/2

Author: MARIO GAUCI ( from Naxxar, Malta
26 August 2011

This was the last of Hammer's 10 psycho-thrillers to get watched by me: in the long run, it is a middle-of-the-road effort, not particularly good but neither is it among the worst. Still, the film has palpable deficiencies, first and foremost because it is severely undercast (though lead Stefanie Powers had already co-starred in the above-average FANATIC aka DIE! DIE! MY DARLING {1965} from the same stable: incidentally, I regret not giving that one a spin as part of my recent tribute to its late director Silvio Narizzano!) and over-familiar – to say nothing of being essentially dreary – in plot line. In fact, it borrows the French setting, wheelchair-bound protagonist and the mysterious room from TASTE OF FEAR aka SCREAM OF FEAR {1961}, the hallucinations pertaining to a past crime from NIGHTMARE {1964} – both among the company's top outings and both also scripted by the late Jimmy Sangster, who here reworked Alfred Shaughnessy's original scenario…which had actually been intended for Michael Reeves, the promising but short-lived director of WITCHFINDER GENERAL {1968}! – and the domineering mother from FANATIC itself. By the way, the pool-as-murder-setting owes its origins to Henri-Georges Clouzot's seminal DIABOLIQUE (1955), which – along with Alfred Hitchcock's even more celebrated PSYCHO {1960} – was virtually the template for all of these Hammer shockers to begin with! Another clear link to the latter's cinematic universe is the molding of one character into the personality of another, now deceased, which was at the center of both his REBECCA (1940) and VERTIGO (1958)! One additional motif here is the eerie presence of broken dolls, which may very well have already been employed by some earlier Hammer shocker but was certainly a vital feature of Freddie Francis' THE PSYCHOPATH (1966): while this was made for the company's rival Amicus, its director had contributed a trio of titles to the British House Of Horror's Grand Guignol-infused subgenre.

The afore-mentioned dreams that afflict hero James Olson (who had just starred in Hammer's goofy 'Space Western' MOON ZERO TWO {1969}) do rather give away the final twist (much-abused over the years), especially with the repetition but, then, the plot does incorporate a number of red herrings which makes one think the narrative will be going a certain way only for it to change direction before long. These have to do with the sordid goings-on in the central mansion and the sleazy characters that inhabit it, the others being Margaretta Scott – whom I was mainly familiar with from the mammoth Alexander Korda/William Cameron Menzies sci-fi THINGS TO COME (1936) – as Olson's "obsessed" mother (determined to keep the memory of her late and distinguished composer husband alive), Jane Lapotaire as the "sensuous" maid (who procures Olson with his heroin fix for sexual services rendered – the film is reasonably explicit in this regard – though at the same time deluding herself that she can one day become his wife) and "sinister" manservant Joss Ackland (who seems to have something going with the latter as well but nothing is eventually made of it!). I deliberately quoted the adjectives utilized in the accompanying theatrical trailer (for the record, though CRESCENDO was recently issued on DVD-R as part of Warners' "Archive Collection", the copy I watched came via a serviceable VHS source) to describe each of these three characters!

To the house arrives young, pretty music teacher Powers who has decided to research the life and work of Scott's husband for her Masters degree; the main piano theme, while quite good in itself, does receive a thorough work-out amid the proceedings. Another quibble I have with the script expressly concerns her presence there (though it is not limited to the film under review), that is to say, if the household obviously concealed some dark secret that would invariably bring the whole crushing down (thankfully, not literally) on its occupants, why tempt Fate by inviting an outsider into their fold? The climax, then, is appropriately intense but also not exactly inspired (with Ackland's demise proving especially unconvincing) and abrupt into the bargain. Indeed, even if the handling here of Hammer newbie Alan Gibson was appreciated by some, I had always been somewhat wary of his involvement since he would subsequently helm the notorious last two entries in the company's "Dracula" franchise, which brought the mythical vampire Count uneasily into contemporary times (though he still could not tarnish the reputation of genre icons Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee)! Even so, I did enjoy one of his two contributions to the HAMMER HOUSE OF HORROR (1980) TV series (which had also starred Cushing) and was intrigued enough by the picture that would follow CRESCENDO, namely the obscure but impressively-cast telepathic horror GOODBYE GEMINI (1970), that I acquired it soon after this viewing...

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6 out of 17 people found the following review useful:

A Very Unusual Story

Author: marianna1776 ( from Huxley, Iowa
18 June 2004

Crescendo is a very unusual story.This is a true gem in the early made for television movies of the early 1970s.I watched this movie a couple of months ago, and I loved it.I think the suspense and the build up in this movie is terrific.I liked it from the very beginning to the very end.The cast includes Stefanie Powers and James Olson and others.Stefanie Powers and James Olson did a very good job portraying their roles. Stefanie Powers has been in a lot of real good made for television dramas from the 1970s and the 1980s.James Olson is not too well known as an actor,but he has been in so many good movies over the years.I think that the writing was intelligent,the entire movie was very well done.I hope that Crescendo is not going to be redone by Hollywood,because the original movie could not be improved upon.I gave this a high rating. I highly recommend this movie to everyone.

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