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The Slender Thread (1965)

Not Rated | | Drama | 28 March 1966 (Sweden)
A college volunteer at the crisis phone gets a call from a suicide caller.




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Nominated for 2 Oscars. Another 1 win & 2 nominations. See more awards »


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Cast overview, first billed only:
... Alan Newell
... Inga Dyson
... Dr. Joe Coburn
... Mark Dyson
... Det. Judd Ridley
Indus Arthur ... Marian
Paul Newlan ... Sgt. Harry Ward
... Charlie
... Doctor Morris (as H.N. Wynant)
... Patrolman Steve Peters (as Robert Hoy)
Greg Jarvis ... Chris Dyson
... Medical Technician
Marjorie Nelson ... Mrs. Thomas
... Arthur Foss
Thomas Hill ... Liquor Salesman


Alan is a Seattle college student volunteering at a crisis center. One night when at the clinic alone, a woman calls up the number and tells Alan that she needs to talk to someone. She informs Alan she took a load of pills, and he secretly tries to get help. During this time, he learns more about the woman, her family life, and why she wants to die. Can Alan get the cavalry to save her in time before it's too late? Written by Pat McCurry <ccgrad97@aol.com>

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Not Rated | See all certifications »




Release Date:

28 March 1966 (Sweden)  »

Also Known As:

Con la vida en un hilo  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


Although top-billed, Sidney Poitier and Anne Bancroft don't appear on screen together in a single scene. Bancroft later repeated this odd accomplishment when she and Anthony Hopkins co-starred, but played no scenes together, in 84 Charing Cross Road. See more »


After Inga attempts suicide by drowning herself in the bay, she arrives at hospital with perfectly styled hair. See more »


Mark Dyson: [to Inga] Do you think that not getting caught in a lie is the same as telling the truth?
See more »


Referenced in You're a Big Boy Now (1966) See more »


Theme For Inga
Written and Produced by Quincy Jones
Performed by Quincy Jones
See more »

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User Reviews

THE SLENDER THREAD (Sydney Pollack, 1965) ***
23 June 2008 | by See all my reviews

The late Sydney Pollack tried his hand at several different genres and succeeded in most; since he never demonstrated an individualistic style (for many he was the antithesis of an auteur!), he could adapt himself to virtually anything (and Pollack often set his sights on grand themes) – though the end result would always be somewhat artificial (if undeniably slick) because of the director’s impersonal approach!

Anyway, for his debut film, he settled on an intimate melodrama – shot on location in glorious black-and-white (incidentally, all his subsequent work would be in color). The plot is simple: Sidney Poitier is a student who works nights at a Seattle Crisis Clinic; on one occasion, a call comes in where a wealthy socialite at the end of her tether (Anne Bancroft) declares she has deliberately overdosed on barbiturates! She phoned not so much because she wanted help but rather so that someone will know of her outcome; Poitier, however, determines to keep her on the line – while he sets in motion a complex operation in order to trace Bancroft’s whereabouts and save her life.

For about the first third of the film, Bancroft barely appears: we only hear her world-weary voice booming across the room at the clinic, Poitier having switched the call to the loudspeaker; eventually, she starts to let her hair down and, in intermittent flashbacks, we see her movements during the last few days (which boils down to her alienation from familial cords due to a past mistake which has come back to haunt her). While this was certainly a way to do it, I’m baffled as to why we never cut to where Bancroft is now until the last act: consequently, we have to contend with a fair bit of padding during the ‘re-enactments’ (which could have easily been covered via dialogue delivered by the heroine)! That said, I guess it was a conscious decision on Pollack’s part to ‘open up’ the drama (not merely to include other characters – most prominently, Steven Hill as the woman’s husband – but also to utilize a number of exteriors, where he was able to exercise a keen eye for realistic detail).

Still, the film compels attention despite an essentially contrived central situation: for instance, at this point, it’s best not to go into how Bancroft manages to remain lucid for so long or, even more importantly, why she just doesn’t hang up on Poitier; and what about the plausibility of the latter’s temper-tantrums (to the exasperation of clinic psychiatrist Telly Savalas!) to coerce the woman into reacting, thus hanging on to life in spite of herself? But that’s Hollywood for you…and, in a talky film such as this, the emphasis is on the writing (by Stirling Silliphant) and the acting (Bancroft is typically excellent and Poitier’s contribution, amounting to a variation on his PRESSURE POINT [1962] role, just as good if slightly overstated in the long run). Even so, as a counter-balance to the ongoing histrionics, reasonable suspense – aided by up-to-date methods of detection – is generated throughout by the race-against-time to locate Bancroft.

At the end of the day, THE SLENDER THREAD emerges as a quite impressive (and generally still powerful) first outing – recalling the gritty work of many a contemporary film-maker who, like Pollack, had emerged from TV.

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