Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB. United Kingdom, 1966. Compton Films, Tekli British Productions. Screenplay by Gerard Brach, Roman Polanski. Cinematography by Gilbert Taylor. Produced by Gene Gutowski, Michael Klinger, Tony Tenser. Music by Krzysztof Komeda. Production Design by Voytek. Costume Design by Bridget Sellers. Film Editing by Alastair McIntyre.
Early effort by Roman Polanski perfectly illustrates his superior talent for creating rich atmosphere with very little apparent effort. Donald Pleasence and Francoise Dorleac are a hilariously mismatched couple who live in an old English castle (where Rob Roy once did his writing) and are interrupted by the appearance of an American gangster (Lionel Stander). On the lam from a botched robbery, he holds the couple hostage until he can escape with help from outside accomplices and then must feign a relationship with them when visitors come to visit (who are even odder than the bad guy himself). The camaraderie Stander develops with Dorleac eventually has an effect on her relationship with her husband. Gorgeous, moody photography heightens the experience, though the screenplay sometimes leaves a little to be desired and the plot lags, but its strangeness is too delicious to avoid.