Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Hysteria, not hysteric enough.

Hysteria (1965) is a middling Psycho rip-off produced by Hammer Films, now available from the fountain of cinematic rediscovery that is Warner Archives. Despite an absurdly contrived story, Hysteria has a polished look, and some impressive framing and camera work, (thanks certainly to cinematographer turned director, Freddie Francis), that keeps it sorta interesting. Hammer did horror, noir, and these sort of thriller / mysteries that, via their flirtions with perversion, are sort of a missing link to the giallo genre.

In Italy, we are not afraid to be sleazy, like those posher than thou Brits!
This is pulpy, seedy fare, though in this case with a more sophisticated glossy veneer.

"Wish I was in Ivanlandia!"
But still, a woman gets punched out, a guy escapes from a jealous husband that's actually a money scam, and our protagonist is an arrogant American rascal in swinging London. That guy is Robert Webber, a character actor mostly, who also stars in Italian 60's crime flick The Hired Killer, which sounds more exciting. Gotta seek that one out.

I would love to do what Weber did: not be a star, but just work in film consistently, and internationally for that matte, appearing in genre flicks. Plus, he was in The Dirty Dozen, and played 'Juror 12' in Twelve Angry Men! He's pretty good for second string, as is the rest of the cast, in particular the alluring Lelia Goldoni (who starred in Shadows and was in American-female-existential-tragedy-quickly-turned-into-a-sit-com, Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore).


  1. Webber was great in Peckinpah's Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia; did a shitload of TV; one of those actors who looked like he drank a LOT.

    Hysteria is a terrible name for a flick whose main character is a man. For whatever socio-linguist reasons "hysteria" is a word more associated with women, especially back in the mid-1960s. Or else most people associate it with humor.

    Glad to see you posting more frequently! Should I start to worry?

    1. Yeah, Webber is good, I didn't quite recognize him, but he made his presence felt. I wonder who his drinking buddies were on this set. Maybe Maurice Denham, who plays the salty old detective and also had a long career as a character actor.

      Hysteria is a great title, but sorta wasted here. I will always think of 'hysteria' and 'hysteric' as my genre, since a friend has rightfully used the term(s) to describe the sort of wild and weirdo movies I like the most. But no, I don't think hysteria needs to be female, though I know what you mean. This friend would defintiely refer to the Kinji Fukasaku gangster movies as 'hysteric,' what with their frenetic pacing, kinetic camera work, and claustrophobic framing, etc. blah blah blah. Of course there's a Japanese fashion label called Hysteric Glamour that is all about pomo nostalgia and unintentional irony with their pastiche and bricolage.

      Worry? MWA HA HA HA HA!!!