The Pyx (1973)

THE PYX (1973)
Article #844 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 7-7-2003
Posting Date: 12-4-2003
Directed by Harvey Hart
Featuring Karen Black, Christopher Plummer, Donald Pilon

A policeman investigates the mysterious death of a hooker/drug addict who either jumped or was pushed off the balcony of a penthouse apartment.

Title check: A pyx is a container used by Catholic priests to hold communion wafers. As a title, it’s obscure, but appropriate to a movie with a Catholic backdrop such as this, especially as it is one of the items discovered on the body of the hooker.

Despite certain marked horror elements that become more defined as the movie progresses, horror fans may be somewhat disappointed by this one, as it mostly plays its story as a cross between a drama and a crime movie. I found it consistently interesting, if occasionally a bit contrived, and I admire how effectively it pulls off a difficult trick in storytelling; half of the story recounts the investigation of the crime, and the other half tells the story of the hooker in flashback. Though the movie jumps back and forth between the two timestreams without warning, amazingly enough you don’t get lost, because it squarely focuses on the two major characters in each timestream so you always know where you are in the story. It’s definitely a seventies movie, and it doesn’t shy from the sleazy aspects of the story, but it comes off a little better than you might expect.

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