By Richard Winters
My Rating: 5 out of 10
4-Word Review: Dead body in trunk.
Dany (Samantha Eggar) works as a secretary for Michael (Oliver Reed) who asks her to come to his place one evening to help him type an urgent report that needs to go out the next day. She agrees and then spends the night in his guest bedroom. The next morning she travels with his family to the airport where they board a plane for a vacation while she is instructed to drive their car back home, but along the way she takes a wrong turn and begins to come upon people who say they’ve seen her before even though she can’t remember them. Then she finds a dead body in the trunk and things get really bizarre.
The film, which is based on the novel by Sebastien Jasprisot and remade in 1992 and then again in 2015, has a certain appeal as the story is offbeat enough to keep you intrigued and manages to give a logical, or at least an attempted one, explanation at the end for why everything that occurs to Dany happened and the reason behind it. Unfortunately Anatole Litvak’s direction is bland despite a colorful opening montage and Reed, with his hair dyed gray, is miscast as a stuffy businessman.
One of the biggest issues though is the main character who behaves in ways that make little sense. Going to her boss’s place after work hours to write a report and even be instructed to drive his car back from the airport seems to be going well beyond the normal duties of an ordinary secretary and one that most likely would be met with resistance by anyone else and yet Dany obliges to his demands without question like she is a robot. Later a strange man (John McEnery) enters her car and makes an aggressive pass at her. Instead of leaving or running for help she instead gets into the car with him and takes him back to her hotel and goes to bed with him before she even knows what his first name is.
At the end we find out that Dany’s boss has set the whole thing up to make it look like Dany shot the man, whose dead body was in the trunk, in order to cover up for his wife (Stephane Audran) who was the one who really did it. Apparently she had been having affairs with many different men and shot this one when he refused to continue to see her. The husband was aware of all of these transgressions and would pay off the men to quit seeing her and when he found out that his wife had killed this one he concocts an elaborate scheme to get her off the hook, but why? Most men would not feel the need to come to the defense of an unfaithful wife especially one that continues to do it over and over again, which makes the whole storyline quite weak since it’s completely off-the-mark in terms of realistic human behavior.
End of Spoiler Alert!
My Rating: 5 out of 10
Released: October 22, 1970
Runtime: 1Hour 38Minutes
Director: Anatole Litvak
Studio: Columbia Pictures
Available: None at this time.