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 end credits begin with a cut out of Bunny's doll, before a hand replaces the cut out with black paper, and the credits begin to roll. See more »
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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