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Arthur Allan Seidelman
The plot is in the tradition of Alfred Hitchcock's 1951 feature Strangers on a Train, where murder swapping is suggested, with two women revealing there are men in their lives who they wish could be eliminated. Jennifer (Linda Gray) has an unfaithful husband, and Maryanne (Linda Purl) an exploitative boss. The narrative establishes Jennifer as bad since she takes the initiative, as a form of blackmail for Maryanne to also act, to keep her part of "the deal". The characters being female, as opposed to Hitchcock's males, also adds a different moral flavor, since women are traditionally the opposite of murderers. However, the reluctance of Maryanne forces Jennifer to keep on killing and threatening those closest to Maryanne, as a sign that Jennifer is serious in her expectation, and also psychotic.
As with Robert Walker in Hitchcock's film, the bad character is the more charming, and the calmness of Jennifer in the face of the growing hysteria of Maryanne is used for comic effect. The casting therefore makes allowances for either actress, by not demanding too much of Gray, and giving Purl the most emotional scenes.
Purl excels in her steely attempt to control her fear, however director Michael Zinberg errs in giving her an extended reaction to the discovery of a dead body. Credit is given to the film's top production values, and how attractively both women are lit and dressed, with Gray's blonde bangs in her brown hair a hint of radicalism, and Purl's thick blonde hair more conservative. Purl makes one line funny with her dry delivery. When she is told by the police that she was thought of as a suspect `What do you think of that?' she replies `Not a lot'.
The teleplay by Pete Best and Christopher Horner, based on a story by Best, repeats Jennifer's call for Maryanne to `be bold'. Although this can be interpreted as impulsive action, Jennifer's seeming sensitivity to Maryanne as the events unfold can also be read as the feminine response to a dilemma. Although Jennifer is given the humiliating scene of asking her husband if he `still finds her sexy', the pain she expresses after she kills reveals she feels remorse, underlined later when she asks Maryanne if she thinks the killing was easy to do. This makes the conclusion, where Zinberg reduces Jennifer to a monster, all the more disappointing. A plot point which means Maryanne is to be promoted and hence the man she wishes were dead is removed, is introduced after Jennifer has planned to kill him, which adds a nice fateful touch, though Maryanne's forgetful nature, which allows Jennifer to plant her earrings at the scene of the crime, is more an obvious device.
Zinberg provides opening cross-cutting between the two households, a beautiful view of a beach at sunset, uses a funpark location to recall the Hitchcock film, and Sorry, Wrong Number on television. However the attempt at comedy of the bumbling policemen falls flat, and his staging of the pivotal car accident and the final confrontation are weak, with the latter particularly bad.
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