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Palmer, former army sergeant, is caught in some unnamed crime, and given a choice—work for British intelligence, or go to the stockade.
This film sends Palmer to Berlin to oversee the defection of a cynical Russian general (“Americans? ” The general says to Palmer’s suspicions about why he doesn’t offer himself to the Americans instead, since they have more money to offer him. They’re Russians in blue jeans.”) In the process Palmer meets up with an untrustworthy old German friend and a beautiful Israeli operative, and gets framed for murder.
Is the Russian up to something, or is he on the level? One of the best and most realistic spy movies of the 60s (this isn’t some flashy, gadget-laden James Bond flick), with humor, tension, and a riveting dark side.
In the 1950s and 60s, Britain’s Hammer Films was known for their lush, Technicolor horror movies—latter day (and gorier) takes on the classic old Universal Studios monster movies.
Beginning with remakes of Dracula and Frankenstein, Hammer went on to revive mummies and wolfmen, zombies and phantoms, and stretched out Christopher Lee’s indestructible Dracula and Peter Cushing’s morally-challenged Frankenstein into multi-film series.
For a time Hammer also delved into psychological thrillers, and “Scream of Fear” is perhaps the best of these.
The film begins with a pretty girl being fished out of a Swiss lake, victim of a drowning.
We learn she was the friend and care companion to beautiful (and morose) Susan Strasberg, who has been confined to a wheelchair after a riding accident.
Met at the airport by a handsome and sympathetic chauffeur, she learns that her father has unexpectedly gone away on business, due to return in a few days’ time. This film made a lasting impression on me when I was a kid—I saw it once—and only once—on a Saturday afternoon on local television, and it gave me nightmares.The chauffeur hints at something mysterious going on, and Strasberg begins to suspect her new stepmother of plotting her father’s murder along with the local doctor (played by Christopher Lee). 30+ years later I had forgotten most of the plot, but still remembered a scene where the chauffeur dives to the bottom of a weed-choked pool and finds the old man’s corpse hidden there, staring out emptily with wild, open eyes.Her suspicions turn to paranoia—and perhaps madness—when she begins seeing her father’s corpse in the house—only to discover it gone when she comes back with help. Years later I sought help on the internet from a fellow classic horror-movie buff, who quickly identified what film this memory came from—and within a week I had my own copy from e Bay.These films, for the most part, aren’t at all obscure—some of them are downright classics, and many of you may have seen some of them.But they aren’t the films that leap immediately to mind when the average person walks into the video store and heads for the “Suspense” section.