Friday, September 7, 2012
Night Watch (1973)
I had no idea that director Brian G. Hutton, more famous for big budget adventure movies like Where Eagles Dare, Kelly's Heroes and High Road To China had it in him: to make a close to brilliant claustrophobic thriller starring none other than Elizabeth Taylor! Night Watch is the title and until I found it at
for rare films last weekend, I never heard of it before. First I thought it was
a TV movie, but it seems that's not the case - but it could have been, mostly
because it's set in very few locations and focuses on a good script instead of
action. Interesting enough, Umberto Lenzi was the first person I thought if
while watching this movie. Why? Lets see... Stockholm
Liz plays Ellen Wheeler, a rich widow spending her days in her and her new husbands elegant home in
He, John (Laurence Harvey), is a successful investment consultant and spends
most of his time at the office or on travels and is not home to take care of
Ellen, who's getting weaker and weaker from a nervous breakdown. One day she
looks out from her window into the old house next to theirs and sees a dead man
sitting in a chair. When the police comes the house is completely empty. Ellen
is getting more paranoid and is convinced someone is in the house...maybe the
strange neighbour who always pokes around in his garden, or is there something
with John and her best friend Sarah? She's getting more and more worried and
things is getting more and more strange around her... London
Night Watch reminds me a lot of several of Lenzi's early thrillers,
A Quiet Place to Kill, Oasis of Fear,
Spasmo and Orgasmo and also Romolo Guerrieri's The Sweet Body of Deborah. Good
mindfucks, smart thrillers more focused on clever scripts than murders and
mayhem. Night Watch stands on it's own two legs and is maybe even better. No,
not maybe, it is better. It's a classy thriller with a couple of wonderful red
herrings and a very European atmosphere. It's a British movie, but could have
been Italian or French considering the story and visuals.
The story is not the only giallo-esque thing here. It also has one or two scenes of surprisingly brutal violence, bloody and nasty and drawn out. It's more violent and graphic than any of the Italian movies mentioned above which was a nice surprise and made it even more shocking and goosebump-inducing.
But above everything is the acting and especially Elizabeth Taylor who's sensational. I always forget who damn good she is, something I ought to know after all these years, but maybe the role of Cleopatra is clouding my memory. What we see here is a STAR who actors so naturalistic, so edgy, so intelligent I'm surprised I haven't heard about this film before. She's totally convincing on every level, in every emotion and rules every scene. There's something very modern, very fresh, even today here. I think the always bashed Laurence Harvey is excellent as her husband and Billie Whitelaw and Robert Lang makes fine supporting parts, but Liz outshines them all.
I'm not gonna hold back on this: Night Watch is an AWESOME thriller. Bloody, twisted, intelligent and with great acting. I have a Spanish DVD that looks splendid, anamorphic widescreen and all. Highly recommended if you can find it!