Tuesday, 15 January 2013

The Collector.

Money can’t buy you class, but it can buy you a grand country house half a mile from your nearest neighbour and one with a vaulted gothic cellar, large enough to refurbish as a self contained bed sit to serve as a prison. Freddie Cleg has few friends; his work colleagues at the Bank mock him constantly because of his hobby of collecting and mounting butterflies. One day Freddie discovers that he has won £71000 on the football pools, a substantial amount of money in the 60’s, certainly enough to carry out his most prized fantasy. Our lepidopterist has been stalking Miranda Grey since her days at the local grammar school in Reading were they both lived.  He has now followed her to London were she is at college studying art. Finally at Mount Vernon in Hampstead London he chloroforms Miranda, loading her unconscious body into the back of his Thames van. He drives her to the renovated basement and allows himself to hope that this upper-class art student will fall in love with him.  

Terence Stamp as Freddie Cleg.

The lovely Samantha Egger as Miranda Grey.
The Collector (1965) is a carefully observed study of obsession that turns into a battle of wills between a lonely office worker and a highborn, well-spoken educated young women.  Freddie’s love for Miranda is built on respect for her as a person and not on any kind of physical lust, where as Miranda’s see’s him as a vulgar suburban ignoramus, someone, who in her mind, lacks her appreciation of fine arts and books. Offering her body to Freddie in exchange for her freedom she falls from her ‘pedestal’ in the mind of her mentally disturbed captor. 

Based on the 1963 novel of the same name by the British author John Fowles it was directed by the American based, French born William Wyler famous for such epic films as the 1958’s sprawling western The Big Country and the sand and sandals tale Ben-Hur (1959), seen showing at a local cinema in the film. Terence Stamp, a fine actor, who brilliantly conveys both the dangerous obsessiveness and the boyish naivety of Freddie Cleg, collaborated with some of the sixties most revered filmmakers including Joseph Losey, John Schlesinger, Ken Loach and Pier Paolo Pasolini, he was also offered the title role of Alfie (1966) before Michael Caine made the role his own. Samantha Egger, whose good looks no doubt come from the Dutch side of her family, portrays the well-bred Miranda, a role for which she deservedly won three Best Actress Awards.  Both actors give rivetingly convincing performances in a film that exposes class tensions even in the most dire of circumstances.

The gothic cellar complete with captive.

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