Friday, January 20, 2012

Experiment in Terror

There are a lot worse ways to spend two hours than by watching the movie Experiment in Terror. It's airing overnight tonight at 3:45 AM on TCM, so you'll probably have to record it: the DVD seems to be out of print.

Lee Remick plays Kelly Sherwood. She's a bank teller in San Francisco taking care of her high school-aged sister Toby (Stefanie Powers), since both of their parents are dead. One night, Kelly gets home from work, only to be accosted in her garage by a stranger. The stranger apparently knows Kelly quite well, as he knows Kelly's occupation, and that she and Toby live alone. The man also knows what he wants, which is money. He tells Kelly that she's going to embezzle a substantial sum of money from the bank for him, and that if she doesn't, there are going to be severe consequences -- after all, there's that kid sister he can threaten. And if she tells anybody, well then, there are those consequences again.

Naturally, you know that Kelly is going to tell somebody. She gets in touch with the authorities and, in the person of FBI agent John Ripley (Glenn Ford), they get in touch with her. Kelly never actually saw her assailant, at least, not well enough to see his face. All she did was hear his voice, which she could spot immediately because it was raspy and the man seemed to have asthma or something.

At this point, the movie becomes fairly standard: the investigator tries to find the culprit before anything untoward happens; the victim lives in fear that something bad is going to happen to her; the situation gets escalated; and there's a frantic chase at the end. That doesn't mean that Experiment in Terror isn't a good movie. It's just that there's only so much that the genre can do. Indeed, to be fair to Experiment in Terror, the movie actually does it quite well. Glenn Ford is the right sort of actor, dependable and sturdy, to play the role of the FBI agent. Lee Remick is more than suitable as the working woman, and Stefanie Powers is young and vulnerable enough to play the kid sister. And the climactic chase scene is set at San Francisco's Candlestick Park where Ford had to negotiate a large crowd without there being any violence. Sure, the movie covers ground we've all walked on before, but it does it in a very entertaining way.

As I implied at the beginning, you may have a difficult time finding a DVD. Amazon has copies available for purchase at a ridiculous price, while TCM says you can't buy it from them. These both suggest that there was a DVD release in the past, but that the print run ended. That's a shame, since the movie delivers well on what it does.

No comments: