GAMES (director/writer: Curtis Harrington; screenwriters: Gene R. Kearney/story by Curtis Harrington & George Edwards; cinematographer: William A. Fraker; editor: Douglas Stewart; music: Samuel Matlovsky; cast: James Caan (Paul Montgomery), Katharine Ross (Jennifer Montgomery), Simone Signoret (Lisa Schindler), Kent Smith (Harry Gordon), Don Stroud (Norman), Estelle Winwood (Miss Beattie), Ian Wolfe (Dr. Edwards); Runtime: 100; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: George Edwards; Universal; 1967)
“It’s a whodunit, a cheap variation on Les Diaboliques, that never becomes as interesting as it should have been, yet is entertaining without being particularly challenging.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Curtis Harrington (“Queen of Blood”/”Night Tide”/”Ruby”), a former experimental filmmaker,directs this mainstream dark psychological thriller. It’s based on a story by Harrington & George Edwards. Harrington & Gene R. Kearney write the screenplay.
Paul() and Jennifer Montgomery () are a pair of wealthy bored Manhattan socialites, living in a luxurious Central Park East townhouse that Jennifer inherited from her deceased mother. The kinky couple, married for three years, are avid art collectors (specializing in pop art) and game players, who invite guests over to play pinball games, use their indoor shooting gallery and to demonstrate magic tricks. One day a mysterious lady from France, Lisa Schindler (Simone Signoret), talks her way into letting Jennifer keep her on as a houseguest. Lisa intrigues the naive Jennifer when she openly admits tobeing a hustling cosmetics saleswoman and a medium. After presented with valuable dueling pistols by their psychic guest, hubby talks Jennifer into playing a game on the teenager grocery store delivery boy Norman (Don Stroud) and she pretends to shoot him with blanks for making sexual advances. The only trouble is someone put live ammo into the gun and Norman is dead, until we later learn he’s not dead even though hubby supposedly encases the corpse into a plaster of Paris statue. The only thing is that the shaken Jennifer believes she still sees Norman prancing around the house and is starting to have a nervous breakdown.
Even though it’s not that difficult to figure out that poor Jennifer is being taken advantage here by an untrustworthy hubby and an unscrupulous houseguest with an agenda that her female host didn’t figure on, there’s enough scary occult atmosphere created to keep things spooky and the calculated sang-froid performance given by Signoret is not great but it is chilling. It’s a whodunit, a cheap variation on Les Diaboliques, that never becomes as interesting as it should have been, yet is entertaining without being particularly challenging.
REVIEWED ON 7/20/2011 GRADE: B-
Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”
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