6.2/10
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Fragment of Fear (1970)

Reformed drug addict travels to Italy to find out who murdered his aunt.

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(novel),
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Tim Brett
...
Juliet Bristow
...
Mr. Copsey
...
Lucy Dawson
...
Signor Bardoni
Roland Culver ...
Mr. Vellacot
Daniel Massey ...
Maj. Ricketts
Mona Washbourne ...
Mrs. Gray
...
Mr. Nugent
Yootha Joyce ...
Miss Ward-Cadbury
Derek Newark ...
Sgt. Matthews
Patricia Hayes ...
Mrs. Baird
...
Bunface
Philip Stone ...
CID Sergeant
Glynn Edwards ...
CID Superintendent
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Storyline

A young British author is plunged into a nightmare as he tries to solve his aunt's murder in Italy. When threats of violence, mysterious notes and deadly phone calls shatter his life, the police and his girlfriend doubt the story due to his past as a drug addict - even though his life is in danger. Written by alfiehitchie

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Murder in Pompeii. Voices in the night. Despair in the gutter. A phantasmagoria of fright! See more »

Genres:

Crime | Mystery | Drama

Certificate:

GP | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

September 1971 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Freelance  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound System)

Color:

(Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

During production on British Rail's Waterloo & City tube line, a train ran into the buffer stops at the end of the line at Bank station. David Hemmings, Gayle Hunnicutt, and 10 extras suffered minor injuries. See more »

Quotes

Tim Brett: Either I am mad and all this isn't happening to me, or else I'm sane and it is.
See more »

Crazy Credits

The role of Columbus (the pigeon whom Tim feeds outside his window) is credited as being played by "A London Pigeon" See more »

Soundtracks

Stepping Stones
Written by Johnny Harris
Performed by The Johnny Harris Orchestra
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User Reviews

 
You know the movie and there's little deviation from what you know here.
15 April 2010 | by (Greece) – See all my reviews

How much you like Fragment of Fear depends on how much you've seen of the type of film it is. David Hemmings believes some sort of peculiar conspiracy behind the murder of his rich aunt and he goes about his way to prove it back in London, except he gets his apartment broken into, strange messages and cackling laughter mysteriously appear on his tape recorder, and someone appears to have sent him a warning letter written on his own paper with his own typewriter. There's a girl on the side which he wants to marry and he's had a drug problem a few years back so that no one around him believes his ravings about a secret society out to silence him because he used to be a dope fiend. We even get the "we have no such person working here" mystery man cliché and if you're reading this, chances are you've seen variations of all this in one form or another.

So form is where the movie must distinguish itself except its ambitions never rise to the occasion. Great movies in this "losing a grip on reality" mystery/thriller niche were made at around the same time and Fragment of Fear can't measure up to them because a lot of what is ambiguous here is mostly a series of plot points and there's very little of a metaphorical/poetic nature, a key by which to render Hemmings' struggle a metaphor for something else. It can't measure up to something like Roeg's Don't Look Now or Weir's The Last Wave because this is still mostly a thriller, with all the noise and alarm and the sound and fury of a hunt, this not dying away in the distance to reveal something potentially meaningful about the condition of a fragile man trying to hold onto his pieces as his world bears him false witness, not until the end at least when the movie retreats with a maddened Hemmings inside his head for a final showpiece where "creepy old peoples' faces" stare ominously in the wide-angle lens of the camera and the the movie disappears on board a train through a dark tunnel and emerges on the other side on a grey lonely beachwalk where psychodrama and "twisty" horror thriller are allowed to finally converge.

This is not a bad movie by any means but something in it tells me Richard Sarafian may not have been the best man for the job. He turns in something that is competent and borderline successful but it lacks the intuitive mark of a director who's making his kind of film. The problem here is that the movie posits itself as something ambiguous except it's mostly literal and straightforward. When David Hemmings goes mad we know it not a second too late. Sarafian probably felt more comfortable in the grit and dust of Vanishing Point and Man in the Wilderness, films which are at once more metaphoric in their conception and poetic in execution, but it's still a bit puzzling that he didn't make something more out of Fragment of Fear.


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