Sunday, February 4, 2018

The Walking Stick

I see that The Walking Stick is available on DVD courtesy of the Warner Archive collection. So, having watched it off my DVR, now's a good time to do a full-length post on it.

Samantha Eggar plays Deborah, who works as an appraiser at a London auction house. She still lives with her parents (doctor Douglas played by Ferdy Mayne and mom Phyllis Calvert) and sisters since she's not married, and because she has a disability that requires her to use the titular walking stick. Also because of that disability, she tends toward being withdrawn and not social, not wanting to go to the parties that her parents have in their fashionable Hampstead house.

To please her parents, she mingles at one of those parties, which is where she meets Leigh (David Hemings). Leigh is a struggling artist who lives in a grimy part of London, living off an aunt's legacy and patronage from Foil (Emlyn Williams). Leigh is immediately smitten with Deborah, but the feeling is decidedly not mutual. Part of it is probably due to Leigh's being uncomfortably forward, with a greater portion of it being because of Deborah's introversion. Still, Leigh persists until Deborah finally says yes.

Deborah proceeds to start a relationship with Leigh, although there should probably be some red flags. He's way too persistent, he shows himself to be a bit of a jerk when he jokingly suggests stealing the one valuable piece of porcelain that his patron has. Much more worryingly is that he doesn't tell Deborah about his failed marriage. Leigh married an Irish woman, and while the marriage failed, Leigh has been unable to get a divorce since his wife is a devout Catholic. When Deborah finds out, she's rightfully ticked.

She doesn't know what's about to come. One day out of the blue Leigh asks for information about the security situation at the auction house where Deborah works. Once again, she's aghast, and here she should probably drop Leigh like a hot potato. But all she does is try to get Leigh to drop the matter, and sure enough Leigh lets the people who are working with him continue to pressure him, until one day they show up at his residence. They want to rob the auction house, and want Deborah's inside information. And when they can't get a guard on the inside, they wnt her to disable the alarm and open the door for them herself!

The Walking Stick is a movie with a great premise, even if this is the sort of material that a lot of films have handled. Hemings and Eggar both give strong performances, even though I really didn't like Hemings' character at all. However, I also found that the movie didn't quite add up to the sum of its parts. I think that's down to the direction. The movie is extremely slow in getting where it's going. They probably could have cut at least 10, and probably 20, minutes out of the film from before the heist plot comes into play.

Still, I'd say The Walking Stick is definitely a movie that's worth watching the next time it shows up on TV, or from streaming if you can do that. (It's currently available on Amazon streaming.) I'm not certain if I'd pay the Warner Archive prices to have it in my collection, but in a box set, I'd certainly think about it.

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