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
Stuffed with wonderful character actors and recognisably shabby locations - like the little school in an old house where the cook is making junket (whatever happened to junket?). Her accent is familiar: she once played a beautiful spy in 39 Steps, warning of leaking "secrets vital to your air defence". After many viewings, it's easy to forget that it's a mystery and everyone is a suspect. Has Bunny been abducted by sinister Martita Hunt (the slightly dotty founder of the school)? Or creepy Noel Coward (the landlord)? The Zombies song "Just Out of Reach" keeps being reprised.
They were more famous, though, for a song called "She's Not There". How's that for intertextuality? The script is by John and Penelope Mortimer. John is famous for the Rumpole series, and Laurence Olivier's detective has echoes of Rumpole, muttering that bus conductors never notice anything - they are dreamers and philosophers. Noel Coward's character too is very Mortimerian: "There are many at the BBC who bear bruises left by the love of Horatio Wilson." Mortimer reveres Shakespeare and Conan Doyle and sometimes it shows.
The plot is stuffed, sometimes clunkily, with issues that were only just beginning to be spoken about: perversion (in the person of whip-wielding Horatio), teen pregnancy (Anne Lake seems about 20), unmarried motherhood and abortion. Anne chose to have her baby and raise it on her own. This is still a difficult course of action, but in 1965 it was groundbreaking, especially if you were - as she is - middle class.
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