Can the mind of just one man be the source of so many disaster?
John Morlar (Richard Burton) is violently assaulted, beaten about the head with a heavy metal ornament.
What provoked such a violent reaction? As the police investigate the scene they are astonished to find that Morlar has survived the attack.
Inspector Brunel (Lino Ventura) is on the final days of secondment to the British police and ends up with the case to investigate the attempted murder.
What he finds though Morlar’s own diary is that Morlar himself is a masively intriguing figure – convinced from an early age that he personally has a gift for disaster. Is he a powerful telekinetic?
The hunt for his assailant slowly turns into a nightmare of following Morlar’s history and quite how many potential victims or suspects are there? Even worse though can morlar be reponsible for these atreocities? Can his mind, battered and pulverised as it is, cause yet larger destruction?
Ah! Richard Burton! Using but a ounce of his powerful presence Burton would have brought this movie to life. But instead he throws himself into the role and what we see is an absolute masterclass.
The character of John Morlar is seen entirely in flashbacks as the people his ‘gift’ has affected relate their fears and loathing about the man. The lead detective Brunel, excellently played by Lino Ventura, draws all these strings together.
Lee Remick costars as Morlar’s rather detatched psychoanalyst and puts in a believable performance. Grounded in just the right way for the role.
The direction and expert editing of the movie lead to some sympathy for the tortured soul that is Morlar before they twist it around and allow you to feel the contempt and horror of those around him.
The rest of the cast seriously pull their weight (Gordon Jackson, Michael Byrne, Derek Jacobi, Norman Bird) and even the minor roles are full of spot-on characters and actors (James Hazeldine, Michael Hordern, Jeremy Brett, Harry Andrews). That’s a star cast really – honest decent actors one and all. All led by that wonderful turn by Lino Ventura.
PG certificate? Well it contains no nudity or graphic violence but the threat and malevolence portrayed by Burton would probably give a lot of kids bad dreams for a while.
I came to this review with some trepedation. This is one of my all time favourites and want to do it justice. What I have decided to do is to leave it to you. Like all my reviews this is my personal opinion and I know some critics hate the movie. Yes, some of the effects are flawed but the film relies on the acting to get its point across and here it does excel. Watch and enjoy Richard Burton at his best.
Things to look out for: bloody – violent opening, “I have a guft for disaster.“, Parents’ death, plane crash, collecting leaves (nice turn by Joseph Clark as the young Morlar), cathedral collapse, “What am I? How can I will death?“, next door neighbour ‘suicide’, closing scenes
Cast: Richard Burton, Lino Ventura, Michael Byrne, Lee Remick
Rating: atmospheric, chilling, tense mystery thriller, very highly recommended
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