And Soon the Darkness (Robert Fuest / United Kingdom, 1970):

"These things just donít happen." "Weíre not in England now." (The Lady Vanishes) Two British lasses pedaling through the Gallic countryside, one brunette and demure (Pamela Franklin) and the other blonde and hot to trot (Michele Dotrice); they separate after a row, the blonde disappears and the brunette scans the flat landscapes, a sexy-sinister drifter (Sandor Eles) by her side. The English lineage goes back farther than Bunny Lake Is Missing or So Long at the Fair, this is Carroll territory: Decorated with damp undies and undeveloped strips of celluloid hanging from tree branches, the whole thing could be the dream of the humid schoolgirl whoís fallen asleep while sunbathing by the side of the road. "Aw címon, itís not that kind of a holiday." It falls to Franklin to turn the investigative gaze on the stalkerís purring moped, the Mrs. Danversisms of the traveling literature teacher (Clare Kelly), the wheezing old salt (John Franklyn) who keeps a phallic bayonet among his souvenirs de guerre. Robert Fuestís direction, here as uncannily still as it is sardonically baroque in the Dr. Phibes films, is beautifully attuned to the feminine anxiety that can emerge in vast, empty expanses as well as the inside of a closet. BrontŽan frissons left and right, a little joke understood the following year by FranÁois Truffaut, of all people. With John Nettleton, Hana Maria Pravda, and Claude Bertrand.

--- Fernando F. Croce

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