Myles Clarkson, a classical piano player on the rise, befriends Duncan Mowbray Ely, a famous player himself who is at death's door. Unknown to Clarkson, Ely is a Satanist, who arranges to have their souls switch places at his death, so that he can be young again and continue to play piano.Written by
This is a disturbing tale of poisoned love.
But the movie is a collosal disappointment.
I've read Fred Mustard Stewart's terrific novel.
And although the movie (to it's credit) stays very faithful to the source material, the casting, and an incredibly poor script, deal a death blow to the film adaptation.
The plot revolves around Myles Clarkson (Alan Alda), a failed musician-turned-journalist, who, still longing for his piano playing days, lands an interview with famous pianist Duncan Ely (Curd Jurgens) who at first is very hostile til he notices Myles hands.
This is an important detail.
One the audience needs to keep in mind...
Because once this detail is noticed, Ely does a complete one eighty, and along with his daughter Roxanne (Barbara Parkins), proceeds to woo Myles with dinners, presents, offers of friendship.
And, of course, free use of his piano.
Myles is swept up. Overwhelmed.
Completely lost in their glamorous thrall.
His wife Paula (Jacqueline Bisset) is suspicious, and has every right to be. There's something not quite right about this couple.
And as the plot progresses, we learn what it is.
And when we do, we're not really all that shocked.
Is it any surprise that Ely and Roxanne have been having an incestous affair?
Is it any surprise that they're Satanists?
Is it any surprise that Myles has been seduced completely?
The story really is terrific.
With an ending that's as disturbing as Paula's insane love for her husband which causes her to overlook the fact that he murdered their daughter as part of a deal with Satan and Ely.
All of this, the novel conveys brilliantly.
The problem is the movie doesn't at all.
Not only does fail to onvey Paula's enamourment with Myles, it also grossly miscasts the characters.
Paula's obsession with Myles is never conveyed well in the script.
Roxanne (a femme fatale in the novel) has been reduced here, to a weak, trembling waiffe.
And Alan Alda is a good actor. He's just not good for this. He has no sex appeal, making it ridiculous that women like Paula and Roxanne are getting into a cat fight over him.
It's a little bit like them getting into a cat fight over Woody Allen... only worse: With Woody Allen it's hysterical; with Alan Alda, it's just plain stupid.
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