Crescendo (1969)

A rarely-seen addition to Hammer's Hitchcock-alike thriller series, Crescendo is pretty average fare. Saucy Stefanie Powers aside (I knew there had to be a reason why people found her attractive - she was knocking on a bit by the time Hart To Hart came round, as far as I was concerned) it has all the hallmarks of Hammer's Paranoiac, Hysteria, Maniac, etc, but is lacking something. Well, quite a lot of things, actually. Logic, plot, shocks, surprises... pretty much any of the ingredients that make a thriller worth watching, really. It's not even particularly violent.

To give a synopsis of the plot would ruin the film for anyone who hasn't seen it, so I won't go into too much detail. Powers is offered the chance to stay at a dead composer's house for the summer, which will apparently help her write her thesis on the great man's work. Once there she meets his widow Danielle (mad), his son George (mad and wheelchair-bound, with a pechant for hard drugs and bad dreams), the maid (French, mad, deeply unattractive and prone to removing clothes at every opportunity) and the butler (Joss Ackland - mad and brooding).

As already mentioned, George keeps having drug-addled nightmares about snogging rotting corpses and being shot at by a bloke who looks just like him. Powers keeps getting spooked by the odd goings-on around the place (including George's seeming on-off disability and some spooky piano playing), and then people start dying...

As usual, you'll probably suss the "twist" straight away and spend the rest of the film thinking "that was too easy... or was it?"

"It's not easy for a man that is half a man to talk to a girl, but in the few days you have been here, I've grown very fond of you..."

Highlights include Powers looking great in a variety of top-notch late 60s mini skirts (and a spot of discreet nudity... she's gaw-jess, to coin a phrase), and someone fluffing their lines with the classic: "You little... Corr! Get out!" (listen out for it - wonder which member of the crappy Irish folk-pop combo he meant she looked like? My money's on the spikey-haired bloke).

You also (because there's a disabled bloke in it) get the usual rampant tastelessness of the time, including a great line by the chair-bound George: "It's not easy for a man that is half a man to talk to a girl, but in the few days you have been here, I've grown very fond of you..."

And of course, George gives hope to bird-hungry men with a particular disability everywhere... I'm not talking about his lack of mobility, but his incredibly bad hair. If someone with a comb-over like that can pull totty like Powers by treating her as badly as he does, there's hope for us all...

Last updated: February 18, 2010

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Crescendo 1969

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