PRETTY POISON (1968)
Article 4380 by Dave Sindelar
Directed by Noel Black
Featuring Anthony Perkins, Tuesday Weld, Beverly Garland
What it is: Blackly comic crime drama
A mentally disturbed man with an overactive imagination lures a teenage girl into a fantasy he’s concocted about being a secret agent. The fantasy spirals out of control when the girl proves to have a murderous streak…
After PSYCHO, the concept of casting Anthony Perkins as a mentally disturbed man must have seemed like an obvious move; for this movie, it’s also an extremely clever move, since it leads the viewer to expect that the movie will go in one direction when it’s actually going somewhere else entirely. It takes quite a while before the movie shows its hand, but when it does, you’ll recognize that you’re not watching a PSYCHO variant, but a cleverly conceived film noir. It’s a great movie with excellent performances from all of the major characters, and Perkins’ character is quite different from that of Norman Bates. The plot has some fascinating twists before it all ends, and it is one of those movies for which I’d actually like to see a sequel. There is some question as to whether it might strictly be genre; it’s another movie that only the Lentz guide mentions, and though mental illness and madness weave their way into the plot, I’m not sure it really qualifies. It is, however, highly recommended.