To Kill a Clown (1972)

Article 3577 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 5-11-2011
Posting Date: 5-31-2011
Directed by George Bloomfield
Featuring Alan Alda, Blythe Danner, Heath Lamberts
Country: USA
What it is: Psycho movie

A couple rents a beachside house in an isolated area from a crippled Vietnam vet who lives next door. They soon discover that their landlord is not quite sane… and that his dobermans obey his every command.

I don’t know when the concept of a psychotic Vietnam veteran became a movie cliche, but I don’t think it was quite this early in the game. At any rate, this isn’t your run-of-the-mill psycho, and Alan Alda gives one of his most interesting performances here in the role of the veteran. One does sense there’s something a little wrong with him early on, but it’s not until the veteran and the husband engage in a game that is supposed to teach the husband how to “focus” that we start getting a real sense of the veteran’s madness. The couple themselves have some real problems, and their relationship is quite complex. As a result, there are some really interesting moments in the movie, and in some ways it reminds me of CUL-DE-SAC. The movie does have a few problems; it’s too slow at times, and certain scenes don’t seem to have a point. Its worst problem, however, is its ending; for some reason, it is totally unsatisfying in that it leaves so much unresolved, and I came out of it with the feeling that the movie doesn’t really know what it’s trying to be. The movie was based on a novel by Algis Budrys.

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