SWEENEY TODD (1970)
TV-Movie/Episode of “Mystery and Imagination”
Article 3077 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 10-14-2009
Posting Date: 1-16-2010
Directed by Robert Collin
Featuring Freddie Jones, Heather Canning, Leon Collins
What it is: TV-Movie adaptation of famous horror story… but with a twist
Sweeney Todd murders a customer for a string of pearls which he hopes will win the heart of the woman he loves. However, when he is spurned and forced to sell the pearls for money, he begins a descent into real madness.
This was an episode of a British TV-Series called “Mystery and Imagination”, but at 75 minutes, it qualifies as a movie, hence its inclusion here. The story is familiar enough, but this movie has a real twist to it, which I won’t give away here because it’s one of the great surprises of this version. Suffice it to say that you spend almost the entire running time of this movie trapped in the mind of Sweeney Todd himself, a mind given to sudden leaps in time and breaks in continuity. After a while, you’re not sure what is real and what isn’t, and it is this ambiguity that makes the movie work. Kudos must go to Freddie Jones, whose performance in the title role is profoundly disturbing; the rest of the cast also does quite well. It’s really rare when such a familiar story can be handled in a truly unique and interesting way, and this one succeeds very well.