Thursday, January 27, 2011

Peeping Tom - Voyeurism Before the Flip Cam

Peeping Tom is a 1960 British thriller by director Michael Powell. The main reason I sat to watch this film was to see red-headed actress Moira Shearer. Moira starred in another film I recently watched called The Red Shoes (also directed by Powell), an inspiration to Darren Aronofsky's Black Swan. It is a beautiful technicolor film about a dancer's struggle between her personal life and career.

Although Moira Shearer also plays a dancer in Peeping Tom, her fate is slightly different as she is a murder victim to Mark Lewis. Mark, played by actor Carl Boehm, is a professional photographer and film maker. But in typical exploitation fashion, Mark has an evil side - he gets his kicks filming scared women while murdering them with a sharp spear. As the story progresses, we discover Mark has a troubled childhood past. His father use to film and perform "fear experiments" on his son to benefit the scientific community. But when Mark meets a love interest, will he be able to stop his murderous ways or will she be slashed by his camera?

The one thing that bothered me was the authorities didn't catch Mark any sooner. He didn't cover up his crime scene anywhere near the meticulous professionalism of serial killer Dexter Morgan. However, I still enjoyed this film and here's why:

  • The film foreshadows the technological voyeurism of today. We view Mark walking around with a bulky camera making "documentaries." Although he looks awfully peculiar toting a recording device throughout town, it's not much different than everyone having camera phones today. I was at Hooters the other today and saw men pointing their phones at the waitresses. Although we can get away with this today, it would have been totally unacceptable to hold up Polaroid cameras twenty years ago.
  • Most of the female cast had red hair. For the most part I go for brunettes, but it was cool to see so many red-heads, where I believe they usually tend to be minorities in film.
  • Carl Boehm plays a very creepy character. His mannerisms and accent remind me of Peter Lorre from the Maltese Falcon.
Overall, I give Peeping Tom - 3 out of 5 stars.

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