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After their parents divorce, one daughter lives with her mother in England while the other lives with her father in Portugal. After the untimely death of her mother, the one daughter stands to inherit a large sum of money and also a number of documents containing information that will incriminate her father, who was a crooked judge. While her father wants the documents, her sister wants the money and they will each stop at nothing, even murder, to get what they want. Written by
Kevin Steinhauer <K.Steinhauer@BoM.GOV.AU>
Go-go dancer Marianne is fleeing her father 'The Judge' and lethal step-sister from their Portugal seaside mansion, as when she turns 21 she'll inherited from her deceased mother a fortune in cash, and some discriminating evidence which could put away her father. Wanting this evidence he tracks her down, but her stepsister has her eyes on the money. After constantly being on the run, she decides to head back home.
After reading all the middling things to below-par opinions about this Pete Walker film, I just couldn't help myself and that dazzling figure of the skilfully talented actress Susan George was the main reason for taking the dip. I didn't care. I'm new to Walker's work, and maybe this psycho-thriller wasn't a good choice for my second film (the first being "The Comeback"), but it was an okay time-waster. I use okay lightly though, because even with the lovely Susan George and her always wilful and compassionate portrayals. No she just wasn't a sexpot. Still there are gaping problems. She does look quite lost in the picture, but the support roles of the delightful Barry Evans and sly Christopher Sandford seemed even more dazed. Hell everyone should be! What got here was a salty, and for most part lifelessly talky lets chuck everything, but the kitchen sink psychological melodrama of greed and family betrayal. Walker's direction is quite forward, but rough around the edges. After letting the film really kick off, he seems to lose out to the film's sluggish and lounging pace where the characters really don't get up too much and take their sweet time to execute their obscure plans. The choppy, and flabby mid-section really spells out the screenplay's intentions, and elaborate twists. Gladly we have George to watch, because it does become a maze of incoherent sub-plots. Eventually the shifty air, is broken up at a last ditch attempt (and not terribly successful) of heart-racing, and random thrills. Nonetheless Walker gets across one or two effective, suspenseful set-pieces, despite not sustaining it for long periods. Cyril Ornadel's strikingly haunting, uncanny score swings with the era, and Norman Langley's finely featured cinematography stands out with its kinetic flourishes and beautiful scope of the Portugal locations. Lending to film's greatly hypnotic edge was Leo Genn's fascinatingly humid and perverted performance as 'The Judge' and Judy Huxtable's seductively titular psychotic half-sister Hildegarde. Kenneth Hendel's subtle, moody support part is well delivered.
Walker shows pockets of promise and the cast complement with solid acting, but Murray Smith's confusingly messy and languid screenplay brings it down with a thud.
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