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An intensely claustrophobic nail-biter to rival prime Hitchcock, 1964's Sťance on a Wet Afternoon is a classic British thriller written and directed by Bryan Forbes. Set largely in an imposing Gothic house in north London, the film stars Richard Attenborough as Bill Savage, a man struggling to maintain his marriage to his increasingly unbalanced wife, Myra, played in an Oscar-nominated performance by the little-known but brilliant Broadway actress Kim Stanley. Myra, who believes she is a medium, plans a scheme that will make her famous, involving kidnapping then "psychically" locating a little girl. Attenborough (who won a BAFTA) and Stanley are both superb in what is part riveting battle of wills, part nerve-wracking kidnap thriller with, just possibly, a touch of the supernatural. Gerry Turpin's precise b/w cinematography and John Barry's chilling score add significantly to the atmosphere of dread, and if the plot has one or two gaping holes, Forbes's direction covers them deftly. Forbes explored female delusion again in The Whispers (1967) and The Mad Woman of Chaillot (1969); the film also marked a major entry in his long-term collaboration with John Barry and with his wife, the actress Nanette Newman. Sťance clearly had an influence on Attenborough's own directorial contribution to the genre, the highly unsettling Anthony Hopkins vehicle, Magic (1978).

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SEA050 Seance On A Wet Afternoon DVD (1964/Kim Stanley) $19.95