5.2/10
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15 user 20 critic

Crescendo (1970)

A young American woman Susan Roberts goes to the south of France to do her thesis research on a recently deceased composer, staying with his eccentric relatives.

Director:

Alan Gibson

Writers:

Jimmy Sangster (screenplay), Alfred Shaughnessy (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Stefanie Powers ... Susan Roberts
James Olson ... Georges Ryman / Jacques Ryman
Margaretta Scott ... Danielle Ryman
Jane Lapotaire ... Lillianne
Joss Ackland ... Carter
Kirsten Lindholm Kirsten Lindholm ... Catherine (as Kirsten Betts)
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Storyline

New York based graduate student Susan Roberts has just arrived in France to do research for her Masters thesis on the works of the late composer, Henry Ryman. She is staying indefinitely at the rural isolated estate of Ryman's widow, Danielle Ryman, on her invitation. There, Susan will have access to Henry's materials. Beyond Danielle, Carter the valet, and Lillianne the maid, the only other person living at the estate is Henry and Danielle's son, Georges Ryman. Georges is wheelchair-bound from an accident suffered six years ago, which ended what looked to be the start of a promising tennis career. Georges admits that he probably disappointed his parents by not being musically inclined like most people in their family. Susan learns that she has a strong resemblance to Georges' ex-girlfriend Catherine, who left him after the accident. Susan can see that Georges suffers both from physical and emotional pain, the latter more than just the emasculation he admits he feels from being in a ... Written by Huggo

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Taglines:

And . . . for Lovers of the Macabre See more »

Genres:

Horror | Thriller

Certificate:

PG | See all certifications »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The film was released as part of a double bill with Taste the Blood of Dracula (1970). See more »

Alternate Versions

After being released with an "R" rating, film was edited and re-rated "PG" for wider release. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Sundown: The Vampire in Retreat (1989) See more »

User Reviews

 
CRESCENDO (Alan Gibson, 1970) **1/2
26 August 2011 | by Bunuel1976See all my reviews

This was the last of Hammer's 10 psycho-thrillers to get watched by me: in the long run, it is a middle-of-the-road effort, not particularly good but neither is it among the worst. Still, the film has palpable deficiencies, first and foremost because it is severely undercast (though lead Stefanie Powers had already co-starred in the above-average FANATIC aka DIE! DIE! MY DARLING {1965} from the same stable: incidentally, I regret not giving that one a spin as part of my recent tribute to its late director Silvio Narizzano!) and over-familiar – to say nothing of being essentially dreary – in plot line. In fact, it borrows the French setting, wheelchair-bound protagonist and the mysterious room from TASTE OF FEAR aka SCREAM OF FEAR {1961}, the hallucinations pertaining to a past crime from NIGHTMARE {1964} – both among the company's top outings and both also scripted by the late Jimmy Sangster, who here reworked Alfred Shaughnessy's original scenario…which had actually been intended for Michael Reeves, the promising but short-lived director of WITCHFINDER GENERAL {1968}! – and the domineering mother from FANATIC itself. By the way, the pool-as-murder-setting owes its origins to Henri-Georges Clouzot's seminal DIABOLIQUE (1955), which – along with Alfred Hitchcock's even more celebrated PSYCHO {1960} – was virtually the template for all of these Hammer shockers to begin with! Another clear link to the latter's cinematic universe is the molding of one character into the personality of another, now deceased, which was at the center of both his REBECCA (1940) and VERTIGO (1958)! One additional motif here is the eerie presence of broken dolls, which may very well have already been employed by some earlier Hammer shocker but was certainly a vital feature of Freddie Francis' THE PSYCHOPATH (1966): while this was made for the company's rival Amicus, its director had contributed a trio of titles to the British House Of Horror's Grand Guignol-infused subgenre.

The afore-mentioned dreams that afflict hero James Olson (who had just starred in Hammer's goofy 'Space Western' MOON ZERO TWO {1969}) do rather give away the final twist (much-abused over the years), especially with the repetition but, then, the plot does incorporate a number of red herrings which makes one think the narrative will be going a certain way only for it to change direction before long. These have to do with the sordid goings-on in the central mansion and the sleazy characters that inhabit it, the others being Margaretta Scott – whom I was mainly familiar with from the mammoth Alexander Korda/William Cameron Menzies sci-fi THINGS TO COME (1936) – as Olson's "obsessed" mother (determined to keep the memory of her late and distinguished composer husband alive), Jane Lapotaire as the "sensuous" maid (who procures Olson with his heroin fix for sexual services rendered – the film is reasonably explicit in this regard – though at the same time deluding herself that she can one day become his wife) and "sinister" manservant Joss Ackland (who seems to have something going with the latter as well but nothing is eventually made of it!). I deliberately quoted the adjectives utilized in the accompanying theatrical trailer (for the record, though CRESCENDO was recently issued on DVD-R as part of Warners' "Archive Collection", the copy I watched came via a serviceable VHS source) to describe each of these three characters!

To the house arrives young, pretty music teacher Powers who has decided to research the life and work of Scott's husband for her Masters degree; the main piano theme, while quite good in itself, does receive a thorough work-out amid the proceedings. Another quibble I have with the script expressly concerns her presence there (though it is not limited to the film under review), that is to say, if the household obviously concealed some dark secret that would invariably bring the whole crushing down (thankfully, not literally) on its occupants, why tempt Fate by inviting an outsider into their fold? The climax, then, is appropriately intense but also not exactly inspired (with Ackland's demise proving especially unconvincing) and abrupt into the bargain. Indeed, even if the handling here of Hammer newbie Alan Gibson was appreciated by some, I had always been somewhat wary of his involvement since he would subsequently helm the notorious last two entries in the company's "Dracula" franchise, which brought the mythical vampire Count uneasily into contemporary times (though he still could not tarnish the reputation of genre icons Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee)! Even so, I did enjoy one of his two contributions to the HAMMER HOUSE OF HORROR (1980) TV series (which had also starred Cushing) and was intrigued enough by the picture that would follow CRESCENDO, namely the obscure but impressively-cast telepathic horror GOODBYE GEMINI (1970), that I acquired it soon after this viewing...


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Details

Country:

UK

Language:

English | French

Release Date:

29 November 1972 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Concierto inacabado See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Hammer Films See more »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Sound System)

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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