Tim Brett is a former drug addict who has written a book about his experience and has been published. He has been clean for about a year. He had recently become acquainted with his aunt, a philanthropist who expresses interest in helping some of Tim’s former acquaintances. She is found murdered soon after. Tim starts a relationship with Juliet (Hunnicutt), the woman who found his aunt’s body, and they are soon engaged. Dissatisfied with the progress that the police are making in his aunt’s murder case, he begins to ask questions of some of his aunt’s acquaintances. He then begins to receive warnings from unknown persons to stop his inquiries. He meets an elderly woman on the train. She hands him a note of supposed comfort, asking him to read it at home. The note turns out to be a warning about leaving matters to the police, apparently typed on his own typewriter. There’s also an ominous laugh recorded on Tim’s own tape recorder, indicating that someone had been in his apartment. Tim is then visited by a police sergeant, Sgt. Matthews, who informs him that the woman on the train had lodged a complaint against Tim. Sgt. Matthews takes Tim’s information but after the woman is also killed, Tim finds out that there is no sergeant by that name working at the police station. Tim is later assaulted on the streets at night by two men who leave him lying on the ground with a hypodermic needle. Tim throws the needle away down a gutter. He makes contact with a secret government agency which tells him that they are after the people who are threatening him, but all is – again – not what it seems to be. As the situation continues, Tim and Juliet’s wedding fast approaches. —Wikipedia
Richard C. Sarafian (born 28 April 1930) is an Armenian-American TV and film director. Richard Sarafian has complied a versatile career that has spanned over five decades as a director, actor and writer. He is also the director of the film Vanishing Point (1971). He is the father of: Richard Sarafian Jr., Tedi Sarafian, Damon B. Sarafian, and Deran Sarafian. —Wikipedia
Thoughts on rewatch: Kind of a modular thriller. Modular because it is made out of what could pre-fabbed chunks of other thrillers (thriller conventions). Each thriller element is presented as a discrete, fully formed piece. So the whole sequence in Pompeii, which ends with the body of Hemmings' aunt being discovered by a girl's group of English students, or the mysterious, happenstance meeting between Hemmings and
a stranger (a stranger whose death is later another key element of the plot), they are chunks of plot that seem both transplanted from other thrillers and newly rendered here, in their own understated way. (It is this understated vibe that keeps them from qualifying as full-on setpieces.)
(The film could also be described as modular because it fits nicely, thematically, stylistically between two other "thrillers" starring David Hemmings--1966's *Blow-Up* and 1975's *Deep Red*.) Its Englishness is on display throughout and lends to the feeling of outrage and terror at the conspiracy unfolding all around Hemmings--as in *The Prisoner*, the film plays on the stereotype of a stiff-upper-lipped, inveterately honest British populace and strips it away slowly as each, additional character is revealed to be morally bankrupt and/or gleefully evil.
The freakout ending on the train that then leads to the melancholy last shot is really my only complaint, and that only because I wish more of the film had contained this level of paranoiac intensity. (That and the fact that some of the film could be described as "slight.") Solidly creepy nonetheless.
An interesting oddity that I'm glad to have seen. Of course brings to mind Hemmings in both *Blow-Up* and *Deep Red*. Could've used a bit more, earlier in the film, of the wtf that overtakes the ending. (And more for Gayle Hunnicutt to do would've been nice.) Solid and satisfyingly off-kilter nonetheless.