Otto Preminger


(Copyright © 1999 Piero Scaruffi | Legal restrictions - Termini d'uso )

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Nato a Vienna, inizio' come regista teatrale, fino a succedere a Max Reinhardt. Nel 1934 emigro' negli USA, dove si dedico' ancora al teatro ma iniziando a dirigere film. Il suo vero esordio avvenne con Laura/ Vertigine (1944), un giallo psicologico tutto intriso di morbosita' e di ambiguita', un film noir che si svolge non nelle strade buie bensi' in un lussuoso appartamento, una commedia nera dai dialoghi elegantemente teatrali, un thriller della tradizione inglese per complessita' della trama e idealizzazione dei personaggi, per i continui capovolgimenti. Laura e' stata uccisa nel suo appartamento a colpi di fucile in faccia. Uno scrittore di gialli, gentleman arguto e sarcastico, amico della vittima, si unisce al detective che conduce le indagini: il fidanzato e una modella sono i sospetti, persche' fra loro c'e' da tempo una tresca. Lo scrittore racconta di come aveva incontrato Laura e l'aveva aiutata a diventare una donna indipendente e di successo nel campo della pubblicita', di come se ne era innamorato mentre lei passava da un uomo all'altro, finendo per essere sedotta dal bel nullatenente truffatore; lui era riuscito a smascherare l'ipocrisia del damerino, cogliendolo in flagrante a casa della modella. Lo scrittore e' un uomo famoso, egoista e crudele. La domestica rivela che qualcuno aveva dormito con la vittima la notte prima dell'assassinio. Ma la bottiglia di whiskey lasciata nell'appartamento piace soltanto allo scrittore e alla modella.
A forza di vederne il ritratto il detective si innamora della morta e vuole sapere tutto di lei. E una notte, mentre sta perquisendo il luogo del delitto, se la trova davanti, viva. La donna cade dalle nuvole, dice di essere semplicemente stata in campagna.
L'assassinata e' invece una delle sue modelle, probabile amante del fidanzato, che evidentemente aveva trascorso la notte in casa sua con qualcuno.
Il detective intercetta una telefonata tra Laura e il fidanzato, dalla quale si capisce che lui sapeva che lei era viva. Da vittima Laura diventa sospetta. Il detective si precipita nella casa di campagna dal giovane che messo alle strette confessa: passo' la notte con l'amante e, durante la notte, qualcuno suono' alla porta e la ragazza, andata ad aprire, venne uccisa. Il fidanzato sostiene di aver taciuto per proteggere Laura, che in un primo momento aveva sospettato dell'omicidio. La difende ancora appassionatamente e il detective lo sorprende mentre sta cercando di occultare un fucile da caccia.
Laura ha mentito al detective quando ha detto di non sapere nulla dell'omicidio perche' la radio in quella casa era rotta.
Il detective fa incontrare gli altri a sorpresa con la rediviva per vedere chi si stupisce: la domestica quasi impazzisce, lo scrittore e' colto da collasso.
Ad un party Laura sembra di nuovo interessata a spsare il fidanzato, benche' lui treschi con l'altra modella. Laura, che lo ama e crede che lui agisca per lei, a sua volta lo difende; viscido e vigliacco, lui ne approfitta.
Il detective finge di arrestare la donna, ma in realta' si convince che il fidanzato l'ha convinta a comportarsi in modo da scagionare lui senza che lei se ne renda conto.
Il detective e' crudele e spietato, freddo e razionalista, non bada ai sentimenti. E' d'altronde innamorato di Laura che ora comincia ad apprezzarlo.
Lo scrittore propone a Laura di rimettersi con lui, ora che lei ha capito il vero carattere del fidanzato; ma ora la sua gelosia si sfoga contro il nuovo rivale, il detective. La donna lo mette alla porta.
Il detective scopre l'arma del delitto dentro una pendola e ricostruisce il delitto: l'assassino e' lo scrittore, deciso ad ucciderla piuttosto che a perderla. Detective e Laura si baciano. Il detective se ne va e la lascia sola; ma l'assassino e' nascosto in casa e ora si accinge a compiere la vendetta. La polizia arriva appena il tempo per ucciderlo.
La prova che e' davvero lui il colpevole, e' che va a cercare il fucile nella pendola, ma il detective lo aveva scaricato.
Si susseguono tante Laura e solo alla fine si scopre quale sia quella vera.
Ciascuno ha in mente una versione diversa dell'accaduto.

Nell'entourage di Lubitsch diresse poi alcuni film in stile mitteleuropeo, fini e leggiadri, fra cui That Lady in Ermine (1948), in cui una principessa, che il consorte ha abbandonato per lo scoppio della guerra, deve intrattenere il comandante dei nemici invasori, ma viene sostituita all'ultimo momento dall'immagine di un quadro, che si materializza per sedurre l'ufficiale.

Torno' al giallo con Whirpool (1949): una cleptomane e' vittima del complotto di un ipnotizzatore per uccidere la moglie e alla fine risulta come l'assassina, ma il marito indaga e scopre la verita'.

Where the Sidewalk Ends/ Sui Marciapiedi (1950) is a film noir with a convoluted plot and morbid psychology.

While one of the police officers is being promoted in charge of his precinct, Mark (Dana Andrews) is told by the chief that there have been too many complaints against his violent manners and therefore he is being punished. In an illegal gambling room run by gangster Tommy. A guest who was drawn to it by young Ken wins a huge sum of money. When he leaves, the sexy Morgan (Ken's girl) decides to leave too. Ken gets angry at her and slaps her. The rich guest reacts and Ken knocks him out. Ken and Morgan leave, but someone stabs the guest to death. When Mark arrives, he guesses that Tom had the guest killed to retrieve his money, and now is trying to pin the murder on Ken. Mark visits Ken to get the truth from him but Mark does not want to cooperate. Mark uses his usual methods and Ken accidentally dies. Afraid that this death would completely ruin his career, Ken calls a cab to carry the corpse out. The old lady at the ground floor sees the cab driver take off with what she believes to be Ken. Then Ken comes back and carries out the corpse in his own car (while the old lady sleeps and can't see him). Meanwhile, the police continue to investigate the original murder, and they track down the girl who was at the scene of the crime, Morgan: it turns out she's the daughter of another cab driver. Mark and his partner visit her where she works as a fashion model. They learn that Morgan is actually Ken's wife, but she has decided to leave him. She tells them that her father was extremely angry when he heard that Ken had slapped her. Mark follows her home and meets her father, the cab driver, who recognizes Mark: Mark once used his cab to catch a criminal. Mark takes Morgan out to dinner: they like each other. Just then the police find Ken's corpse. Mark tries to convince his boss that Tommy is the one with the motive to kill Ken, but the boss realizes that there is an easier explanation: Morgan's father was angry at Ken and his movements match the timeline. Mark visits Tommy, determined to get a confession for the first murder and determined to frame him for the second murder, but is beaten unconscious by Tommy's gangsters while Tommy runs away. Feeling guilty that an innocent is in jail, and, on top of it, the father of the woman he likes, Mark borrows money to hire a good attorney for Morgan's father. Morgan is desperate that not even a famous attorney is willing to defend her father because his case is so impossible. Mark tracks down Tommy, determined to save the old man by framing the mobster. Before the meeting, Mark writes a confession addressed to his boss, to be opened after his death. Tommy understands Mark is meeting him alone only for one reason: so that Tommy will kill him and this will cause Tommy to go to jail. It's a suicidal way to frame a man. Tommy guesses that the reason goes back to Mark's childhood: Mark's father was a gangster and helped Tommy get started. Mark has been living all those years trying to wipe out that shame, and he can do it only when Tommy will go to jail. Tommy refrains his men, but one wounds Mark. The police surround the compound. Tommy and his men try to escape but they are either killed or captured. The chief believes that this shootout proves that Mark was right: Tommy is the real murderer. Mark is surprised to be treated like a hero. It turns out the chief has never opened the letter, since Mark never died. Mark could now walk out with Morgan and get away with the murder of Ken. Standing in front of a happy and proud Morgan, instead Mark asks the chief to open and read the letter. The chief has Mark arrested for the murder of Ken. Morgan, however, believes that it was just an accident and is ready to wait for him to get out of jail.

Angel Face (1952), film nero e tetro, e` il ritratto di una giovane ricca e nevrotica.

The ambulance rushes to a rich mansion. The doctor is already there, as is a police detective. The male nurses hear a woman in bed, Catherine, claim that someone tried to murder her, but all the evidence points to a nervous breakdown. As he is leaving the house, one of the nurses, Frank (Mitchum), the driver, meets a beautiful young woman who is playing the piano in the living room: Catherine's stepdaughter Diane. She starts crying and Frank has to slap her in the face. Later Frank realizes that Diane has been following him and he dumps his girlfriend (who has prepared supper) to have dinner with Diane. Frank, a former race driver, tells Diane what a great girlfriend Mary is: she is saving money to help him start his own business. Later they go dancing. Diane tells Frank that her father's successful career as a writer has been ruined after her mother died. Back home Diane is welcomed by her father who too suspects her mother's accident was just that: an accident. The following day Diane has lunch with Mary and viciously tries to get her jealous by telling her that Frank spent a lovely night with her. Mary reads her motives and candidly confesses that she is beginning having doubts about Frank. Diane offers a lot of money to contribute to Frank's business but Diane turns it down. Later Mary confronts Frank and Frank lies about how he spent the previous night. So this time she dumps him and goes out with another guy. Diane follows Frank again at the diner and viciously reveals her conversation with Mary, which explains to Frank why Mary was mad at him. Diane becomes even more aggressive and offers to hire him to drive a car at a race on her behalf. Back at home she talks her stepmother into hiring a chaffeur since the woman, clearly psychologically unstable, keeps having car accidents. Her parents agree. Next she has to convince Frank. She takes him for a night ride to the beach and makes love to him. He accepts the job. Diane also suggests that he talks to her stepmother about his project to open a repair shop for sport cars. The stepmother sounds interested. When they meet at night, Diane is upset: Catherine has no intention of funding Frank's venture and she would fire him if she found out that he's having an affair with her daughter. The following in the house Diane walks into Frank's room with a terrified look: Catherine just tried to kill her by turning on the gas in her room. Frank thinks she's just a spoiled rich girl and shoos her away. Fed up with the family, Frank visits Mary to tell her that she has decided to quit his job at the family and to dump Diane. Mary is the opposite of Diane: a down-to-earth working girl with a simple life and wants Frank to make up his mind for good. Frank cannot: when he returns to the mansion to pack his things, he falls again for Diane's spoiled manners. Later Diane throws a piece of metal in the ravine. When Frank finally leaves, Catherine decides to go for a ride. Diane's father asks for a drive. They get into the car but something is wrong with the car and they plunge into the ravine to their death. Diane had sabotaged it (probably to kill just the stepmother) and is calmly playing the piano. The police, realizing what caused the accident and discovering the affair, arrest Frank and Diane as suspects. Frank has no doubt that it was Diane who tampered with the car's transmission. A top lawyer gets them acquitted at the trial by having them get married, so that the jury would see them as romantic victims. Frank goes along with the plan but then tells Diane he will divorce her immediately. Diane now feels remorse of having killed a woman who was only guilt of loving her father. But Frank can now see how superior Mary is to Diane. Mary, however, has already made up her mind: she has dumped Frank for the other man because Frank is just not the man for her. Diane, alone in the big mansion, finally realizes that her life is a nightmare. She confesses her crime to the attorney who saved her. The attorney does not seem shocked at all that he has saved a murderer: he simply tell her that she cannot be tried again for the same crime. He even seems to sympathyze with her as if she had done something trivial. Now that she is willing to do the right thing it's society that keeps her from doing it: society (represented by the class of lawyers) is more evil than the criminals. Back at the mansion she meets Frank who is there packing again. Diane offers to drive him and then causes the car to crash in the same manner that her parents were killed.

The Moon is Blue/ Vergine sotto il Letto (1953), the adaptation of Hugh Herbert's 1951 play, is instead a verbose comedy that attacks sexual taboos (the first Hollywood film to use the word "virgin").

Two strangers meet in a shopping mall: humble and sensible actress Patty and wealthy aggressive architect Don. They flirt on top of the highest skyscraper, where she is just a tourist and he is one of the tenants. He finds an excuse to bring her to his apartment. She sounds naive but she is actually quite straightforward: she doesn't mind being kissed, but she doesn't want to be seduced. She reads his intentions and she just plainly describes their situation. She tells him openly that she is still a virgin and wants to remain one, and she's happy that he is not bored by a virgin unlike most men. On the way to his apartment they briefly meet his ex-fiance Cynthia, dressed in black like after a funeral: they just broke up. In the apartment Patty asks him a million questions about his sex life. She is clearly curious about sex, although always with a smile on her face and no malice. Don steps outside to buy food for Patty to cook dinner. While he's out, his middle-aged neighbor and friend David shows up. Patty is happy to entertain him, and against is very curious about his private life. David, obviously as much a playboy as Don, happens to be Cynthia's father. When Don returns, David has a private talk to him: Cynthia is devastated after spending a night in Don's apartment, but Don swears he didn't touch her. David wonders if that could be what hurt her. The three had dinner together while Cynthia, ever more jealous, spies on them. Eventually Cynthia calls Don and threatens to commit suicide if he doesn't see her. Don excuses himself and leaves David and Patty alone in the apartment. David half-jokingly proposes to Patty. David is so rich that he has never worked in his life. Patty confesses that she only has a few dollars. David gifts her a lot of money, just for the fun of seeing her ecstatic. The naive Patty kisses him, indifferent to what it looks like. Just then Don and Cynthia return and see the intimate scene. Patty tries to explain that it is perfectly innocent, but then she adds that David proposed to her. Don is outraged. Just then an older man walks in, furious, and hits Don. He's Patty's father, come to rescue her. Clearly a contrast with David, who has been indifferent to Cynthia's seduction by Don (and possibly even an accomplice to it). It's night: Cynthia is still pursuing Don, but David has now decided to play the role of a conservastive father. Patty returns to Don's, not so much to check on his conditions after being hit by her father, but to inquire about something that Cynthia said about her: that she is a "professional" virgin. Patty is puzzled why anyone would object to virginity. As they are discussing, David rings the bell. Patty takes the opportunity to return the money that David gave her in order to remove any misunderstanding. Don just wants peace and locks himself in his bedroom. David, alone with Patty, encourages to lose her virginity with Don. Patty knocks at Don's door, but he doesn't open. She has second thoughts and leaves. (All of this has happened in just one day). The following day she goes again to the top of the skyscraper and finds him there. Don starts talking and she, as usual very outspoken, realizes that he wants to propose, and she asks him to propose properly.

River of no Return (1954) e' un western scritto per Marilyn Monroe: lei e il suo amante avventuriero giungono alla fattoria di un uomo onesto e lei alla fine sceglie questi.

Carmen Jones (1954) e' una trasposizione della "Carmen" in una fabbrica popolata di negri.

Il suo miglior noir e' Man With the Golden Arm (1956), tratto da Algren, sul problema della droga, in un milieu allucinato: ex-carcerati, mogli paralitiche, gelosie morbose, gioco d'azzardo, alcool, entreneuse sentimentali, omicidi, suicidi. Preminger e' affascinato dalle pene eterne di questi esseri depravati. Si tratta di una libera trasposizione che del romanzo conserva solo i personaggi.

Sinatra, giocatore d'azzardo, e' appena uscito da una casa di disintossicazione. E' deciso a cambiare vita, ma l'ambiente lo schiaccia; ha imparato a suonare la batteria jazz e vuole trovare una scrittura. La moglie, rimasta paralizzata in un incidente d'auto per colpa sua che guidava ubriaco, non vuole che lui faccia strada, preferisce che resti un povero pezzente. In realta' finge soltanto di essere paralitica, per poterlo tenere legato a se' facendo leva sul suo rimorso. Sa che lui amava la Novak e che la lascerebbe se non fosse per il complesso di colpa. Cerca in ogni modo di disilluderlo, di farlo rinunciare alle ambizioni. Lui, invece, vuol far denaro soltanto per guarirla.
Un amico gli regala un vestito rubato perche' deve andare ad un colloquio; il vecchi biscazziere per cui Sinatra non vuole piu' lavorare ne approfitta per denunciarlo alla polizia, che non ascolta le suppliche dell'innocente e lo sbatte dietro le sbarre. Per uscire di prigione deve ovviamente piegarsi e tornare nella bisca. Il viscido spacciatore e' in agguato e al momento opportuno, quando lui e' ormai fiaccato dalla moglie, dal biscazziere, dalla disoccupazione, gli presta il solito servizio.
Sinatra tenta ancora di risollevarsi, aiutato moralmente dalla Novak che fa la cassiera in un bar e accudisce un altro disgraziato, un alcoolizzato che ha un disperato bisogno di lei. Siccome la moglie nonm gli permette di provare, va ad esercitarsi in casa dell'amica.
Sinatra ottiene l'audizione, ma la moglie si associa al biscazziere e allo spacciatore per convincerlo a tornare alla bisca; gli strappa persino la tessera del sindacato dei musicisti. Lo convince a prestarsi per una sola sera, importantissima, per un compenso eccezionale e lo spacciatore, con le sue lusinghe, riesce a portarlo di nuovo a casa sua. Ma la Novak capisce subito che e' ricaduto e, nonostante le sue suppliche, fa i bagagli e lascia quell'ambiente di depravati e deboli.
Passata la notte a giocare a poker, Sinatra vorrebbe andarsene, ma gli tremano le mani, e lo spacciatore rifiuta di dargli la droga se non continua a giocare; cosi' la partita continua anche dopo l'alba. Lo obbligano a barare; sorpreso con le mani nel sacco, i giocatori lo pestano, e i suoi non lo pagano. Dopo lo spacciatore non vuole neppure dargli la droga; Sinatra lo aggredisce, gli mette a soqquadro la casa, ma non la trova. Ha sempre appresso l'amico semi-deficiente che lo adora e non capisce nulla di cio' che gli capita.
? e' l'ora dell'audizione, che ovviamente si risolve in un fiasco totale.
Nel frattempo lo spacciatore scopre in piedi l'aggressiva e petulante moglie ed esce ridendo, deciso a spargere la voce: lei lo scaraventa giu' dalle scale. La polizia interroga la paralitica e la sua reticenza ne conferma i sospetti di un omicidio commesso da Sinatra per bisogno di droga.
Sinatra nel frattempo e' andato a chiedere soldi alla Novak per comperarsi la droga, ma lei e' insensibile e non cede; l'alcolizzato bussa alla porta e rivela che' e' ricercato dalla polizia; lei crede alla sua innocenza e lo convince che non e' la droga la soluzione dei suoi problemi. E accetta di fargli da infermiera per tutto il tempo che gli ci vorra' per guarire.
Sinatra soffre come un cane, chiuso a chiave nella stanza d'albergo della Novak (show di Sinatra assatanato). lei e' andata a parlare con l'isterica e perfida moglie, che le da' della sgualdrina e la butta fuori di casa. La Novak riesce a guarire Sinatra, ma l'alcoolizzato, geloso, avverte la polizia. La polizia va ad arrestarlo a casa sua, dove e' tornato per salutare la moglie, ed arriva giusto in tempo per vedere che lei, perso il controllo, gli si lancia dietro, in piedi. Colta in flagrante, si divincola e si butta giu' dalle scale: in extremis la sua perfidia si trasforma in amore sconfinato (e' stata tre anni su una carrozzella per non perderlo, tanto lo amava). Muore lasciandolo libero.

Esseri vili e disgustosi, striscianti reietti che affondano nelle sabbie mobili e si aggrappano l'uno all'altro senza pieta', spettri barcollanti e demoni repellenti, laidi depravati feroci, cannibali. In mezzo ad essi si erge la figura positiva della Novak.
Thriller ad alta suspence ambienatto nei bassifondi.
Un destino crudele li schiaccia e li condanna alla pena eterna, inesorabile.
Realismo (societa', droga, polizia repressiva), hitchcock e lieto fine da commedia sentimentale, dove i cattivi muoiono e i buoni si sposano.

Scopri' poi Jean Siberg, che diresse in Saint Joan (1956), da tratto da Bernard Shaw, e Bonjour Tristesse (1957), adaptation of Sagan's novel.

La serie delle trasposizioni termino' con Porgy and Bess (1959), da Gershwin.

Anatomy of a Murder (1959) e' un film processuale in cui culmina lo stile statico e dettagliato del realismo premingeriano. La trama consiste unicamente in un minuzioso smontaggio delle accuse a carico dell'imputato e Preminger si diverte a fare in modo che questa impresa esasperata di due ore e mezzo vada contro la morale (l'imputato e' odioso e sua moglie e' una volgare ninfomane).

Stewart e' un avvocato sui generis, pianista jazz, che si avvale di un amico bisognoso di morale e di una segretaria brontolona. Non fa molti soldi, se la prende comoda, ma sa quello che fa. Viene assunto per difendere un uomo accusato di omicidio. Il detenuto e la moglie ricostruiscono l'accaduto, lui confuso e incerto, sprezzante e arrogante, seppur confesso, lei sexy, volgare e ambigua. Lei sostiene di essere stata violentata e picchiata dal morto, lui sente di averlo ucciso anche se non ricorda bene. Lei passa attraverso il lie-detector, ma teme il marito che dice sia molto geloso.
Durante il processo Stewart deve confrontarsi con due abili legali che cercano di provare: a) che la donna era consenziente, b) che l'assassino ha agito in piena coscienza.
I due coniugi non si guardano, come se lui non credessa all'innocenza di lei (cioe' non credesse che sia stata prese con la forza). Prorpio quando Stewart e' riuscito a provare che l'imputato non era cosciente al momento del delitto, un carcerato testimonia che l'imputato gli ha rivelato in cella di aver preso in giro tutti. Ma Stewart riesce sd invalidarne la parola. Poi la figlia del morto gli porta un paio di mutandine della donna che non erano mai state ritrovate e questo sembra provare inconfutabilmente che la donna e' stata violentata.
L'imputato viene assolto. Colpevole o innocente?
L'ambiguita' della trama e' anche l'ambiguita' morale del film.

La carriera di Preminger precipito' con il kolossal Exodus (1961), che esaltava la nascita di Israele.

Advise and Consent (1962), an overlong political drama, is a faithful adaptation of Allen Drury's 1959 bestseller,

Senators are surprised to read in the newspaper that the president has appointed a liberal, Robert (Henry Fonda), to the job of secretary of state. They are strongly divided between supporters and opponents. The president side, led by the majority leader Bob, is particularly worried about Seab (Charles Laughton), a veteran senator who holds a grudge. So they decide to create a subcommittee to discuss the president's nomination, and have a young senator, Brig, lead it, because he is supposed to be able to deal with Seab. At a party the vicepresident learns from Bob, a close friend of the president, that the president is seriously ill. At the hearings Robert is crucified by Seab and others, who try to smear him with accusations of communist sympathies. Another senator, the self-righteous and naive Fred, is a passionately defending him, and is the only one who dares speak out against the conspiracy. Seab finds a witness willing to testify that Robert was a communist and fired him for knowing too much. Robert asks for a recess and meets with a fellow senator: they were indeed communists and Robert wants to tell the truth. The fellow politician convinces to demolish the testimony instead. Robert finds out a number of inaccuracies in the testimony and exposes the witness as a liar, despite knowing that the fundamental accusation is true. But then Robert walks to the White House and asks the president to withdraw his nomination, telling him the whole truth. The president asks him who else knows: Robert replies that there was a third man. By then Seab has already found out, and is blackmailing this third man. He is forced to make a phone call to Brig. Brig postpones the vote on the nomination, waiting for the president to withdraw it, so everybody is spared a scandal. Fred gets angry and demands that the committee be disbanded, but this would force Brig to explain why he has postponed the vote. Bob has to shut up Fred in order to save the deal. The president, though, won't hear of it: he wants Robert confirmed, and personally tries to convince Brig to ignore the new evidence against Robert. The young and idealistic Brig does not want to compromise: Robert lied under oath and should be disqualified. It is now up to Bob to break the impasse.
Brig has his own secret though. At home his wife tells him of a strange phone call: someone threatens to reveal an embarrassing episode of when he was in the army. Brig denies that there is anything to it but looks clearly frightened. Someone wants him to drop his opposition to Robert or a photograph and a letter will be made public. Brig's wife, who picks up a few of the calls, is devastated that her husband would keep a secret from her. Brig thinks that it's all Bob's doing, but Bob doesn't seem to know anything. Brig takes a plane to Hawaii, where he looks for a Ray who lives with a gay. He finds him in a gay club. Ray recognizes him and begs forgiveness for having betrayed him. Brig runs away and takes a flight back to the capital, but he can't get himself to go home. He goes to his office and takes his life. In the meantime his wife has received an envelope and found a picture and a letter than explain Brig's homosexual relationship of when he was a soldier.
Many think that the president had a hand in the blackmail. The president meets with Bob and the vicepresident and swears he had absolutely nothing to do with it. He also explains to Bob why he is so stubborn about Robert: he feels that the vicepresident is not qualified and that only Robert will be able to pursue his policies. He feels he doesn't have much longer to live. The big loser is Seab. Seab apologizes but still opposes Robert. Bob, having learned that it was Fred who blackmailed Brig, tells his party to vote according to conscience, not to party alliance. Fred (still fanatically in favor of Robert) protests and tries to speak, but the senators of both parties don't let him. Bob tells him that his career is finished. (It seems that it was ok for Seab to use a communist issue to blackmail a politician, while it was not admissible that Fred used a homosexual issue to do the same).
The senators proceed to vote, and the outcome is not clear, especially after Fred himself leaves the senate. The president, who is listening to the live radio broadcast of the vote, collapses in his office. At the end of the voting the votes are equally distributed. It is up to the vicepresident to break the tie. But the vicepresident has just received the news of the death of he president. He decides not to break the tie, and let the nomination fail. Then he announces that the president died and, walking out, tells Bob that he prefers to appoint his own secretary of state.
Il declino continuo` con il biografico The Cardinal (1963), agiografia di un cardinale americano, e il bellico In Harm's Way (1965), battaglia navale contro i giapponesi.

Preminger returned to form with the psychological Hitchcock-ian thriller Bunny Lake Is Missing (1965), based on a novel by Marryam Modell aka Evelyn Piper whose action takes place in 24 hours.

A young man leaves a house in a nice neighborhood and drives away in his fashionable convertible. An attractive young woman searches for her little daughter Bunny in a kindergarten. The chef in the kitchen offers to take care of the baby while the woman (a USA citizen who just relocated to Britain) has to meet the movers at her new place. The young man calls from a phone booth to check on her: he's her brother Steven, a journalist. The woman, Ann, meets their old talkative landlord, Horatio (Noel Coward), and then goes shopping. She is still unacquainted with British money and customs. She walks back to the kindergarten when it's time for the parents to pick up the children but still cannot find her daughter. Neither the staff nor the other children remember seeing such a child. And the chef quit over an argument. It takes time for the manager to realize the gravity of the situation, so Ann calls Steven. Ann and Steven search the school by themselves. They meet an old retired teacher, Ada, who lives on the top floor and has an odd hobby: she tapes children describing their nightmares. Steven loses his patience and calls the police. Police detective Newhouse (Laurence Olivier) organizes a more thorough search and interviews the witnesses, but he cannot find the slightest evidence of the girl ever having been in the kindergarten. She doesn't even have a picture of the baby, because some of her packages have not arrived yet. Ann has to disclose the fact that she was never married, and Bunny is an "illegitimate" child. In the meantime someone has removed all of Bunny's items that she had just unpacked at the house. Even her passport has disappeared. The thief did not take any valuables or money, though. Basically, anything that can prove Bunny's existence is gone. The police detective asks her if anyone at all ever saw the child, and she cannot provide a single name. To make things worse Ann overhears the police officer chatting that this is probably the work of some psychotic criminal.
Alone with her sister, Steven talks to her like to a child. She gives him a toy to take to the police and he drives away. The detective interviews Ada, who mentions something that Steven told her: as a child, Ann had an imaginary friend called Bunny. Ada finds it interesting that Steven is worried about his sister... but not about the child. The detective also finds out that there is no record at the school of Bunny being registered nor of any payment for the tuition. The landlord enters Ann's apartment without asking, and, after showing surprise that she had a child in the apartment, tells her that he works for the television, and that his voice is so seductive that women cannot resist him: instead of being concerned for the disappearance and the burglary, he is trying to seduce her. In the meantime Steven denies that Ann had an imaginary friend as a child, so the detective takes him to Ada's and lets them argue. Steven still denies that he was talking to Ada about his sister, and, furious, tells the detective that he'll find the child by himself.
The landlord is still molesting Ann, and is now boasting of his skills at whipping women in sado-masochistic rituals. He then tells the police officers more about his perverted habits. Ann meets the detective in a pub, where the tv set broadcasts the appeal for the missing baby, but someone immediately switches channel. The detective learns that Steven had tried to arrange an abortion for her; and Steven also dissuaded her from marrying the father of the child. She admits that she had an imaginary friend as a child (which reinforces the impression that Steven would do anything to defend her sister, even admit the existence of an inexistent baby). The detective is clearly less and less convinced that the child exists.
Desperate, Ann remembers that she had sent Bunny's broken doll to be repaired. Believing that this would prove the existence of Bunny, she takes the bus to the repair shop. Because of heavy traffic, she gets off the bus and starts running in the streets while it's getting dark. She finally reaches the shop and finds the old "doll doctor" still at work. He tells her that the doll was badly damaged (the doll sounds like a metaphor for Steven and Ann when he states that "love inflicts the most terrible injuries"). Steven arrives and she hands him the doll while she walks to the old man's room to pay him. Steven lights a match and sets the doll on fire. Then he knocks Ann unconscious and brings her, still unconscious, to a hospital. Meanwhile the detective's men have realized that the couple has disappeared. When she wakes up, she sneaks out of the hospital and then walks back through the dark and deserted streets. The hospital finds out and informs the police, which had been investigating the record of the ship they took to come to Britain (and therefore probably found out how many people they were, namely three). Back at home in the dark she sees Steven walking like a zombie towards his car carrying a box with all her belongings. He has dug a grave and buries the box in the grave. Then he abruptly runs to his car, opens the trunk and lifts Bunny out of it. He takes Bunny, who is asleep, to the kitchen table. Then he takes off his tie and prepares to strangle the child. Ann breaks a glass to enter the house and starts talking to him like a child, congratulating him on his plan. She kisses him and hugs him. He is still angry at her for making love to that other boy. He hates the product of that love, Bunny. She kisses him tenderly, like an old lover. But he is too jealous of Bunny, who has taken his place as her closest friend. She tricks him into playing one of his favorite games of when he was a child, and then another one, as long as it distracts him from killing the child. Eventually she blindfolds him and runs away with the child. When he realizes that he has been tricked, Steven's murderous personality takes over again. She hides the child in the nursery, but Steven is smarter: he grabs the child and, again walking like a zombie, heads for the grave. Ann manages to distract him again with another childish game until Newhouse and his officers arrive.

Dopo il sudista Hurry Sundown (1967), con un proprietario terriero bianco e uno nero alleati contro il prepotente che vuole impadronirsi delle loro proprieta', venne the psychedelic farce Skidoo (1970), which is almost the antithesis of Man With the Golden Arm in its unapologetic paean to hallucinogenics (the addicts are the heroes), a merry-go-round of visual effects, comic mutations and surrealistic twists.

Someone is flipping through the channels of a television set (news, films, commercials), thereby assembling an audio-visual pop collage of the "American way of life". It's a middle-aged dumb blonde, Flo. His husband, middleaged Tony, grabs a remote control and they fight using the respective remote controls. They eventually settle on a channel that is showing a mafia hearing. Tony's best friend Harry is with them, and thinks he spots old enemies from the window. Tony and Harry grab the guns. Clumsily, they walk outside branding the guns. The two strangers turn out to be Tony's daughter Darlene and her hippie boyfriend Stash. Tony strikes him unconscious. Tony's wife brings him into the house and preaches the non-violent anti-bourgeoise ideology of the hippies.
The bell rings and Harry introduces two old friends from the mob, Hechy and Angie. Tony is a retired mobster. They need someone who can approach a turncoat, "Blue Chips", and kill him: Tony used to be an old friend of "Blue Chips". This fellow is about to testify at the hearings against the boss nicknamed "God", and God wants Tony to eliminate him as soon as possible. Tony's fears are shown in the format of cartoon-like slapstick in which he carries out a robbery and an army of cops shoot at him.
Late at night he gets a call that he has to go to his carwashing shop because someone left the machine running. His wife is dreaming, and clearly the dream is about having sex with another man named Stanley. Tony drives in pajama to the office only to find Harry shot dead at the wheel of a car. Meanwhile his daughter hangs out with all the other hippies, who invite her to strip naked and then paint her body. The police find her smoking weeds and arrests everybody. Darlene's mother, wearing a clownish yellow dress, is in court when they are arraigned and expelled from the town. In order to convince her daughter to stay, Flo invites all the hippies to their house.
Tony is smuggled as a convict into a high-security prison located on an island. One of the convicts in his cell, Fred, has dodged the draft, and Tony displays his conservative ideology again by confronting him as unpatriotic.
At home his wife is washing everybody's hair, trying to turn them into respectable people, while her daughter is still walking around naked and painted. Upon hearing of Tony's disappearance, Flo drives to Angie's place, just when Angie calls her number and, finding only Darlene, tries to seduce her. Flo arrives at Angie's high-tech place and demands where Tony is and to see God in person. Angie refuses and begs her to leave because another girl is coming. Someone rings the bell. Flo starts undressing, so as to disrupt his date. Angie presses a button that makes the bed collapse under the floor and then remotely opens the door. It's not his date, but Darlene, dressed like a traditional teenager, angrily looking for her mother and her father. Angie is pleased with what he sees and sends away the date when she finally rings the bell. Darlene is mildly intrigued by Angie but not enough to stay. Angie, angry, hits the wrong button and brings back the bed with her undressed mother on it. She is only mildly surprised to see her mother in another man's bed. Angie gives them a lecture about the mafia family but refuses to take them to God... until Darlene kisses him. Stash drives them to the pier, where they board a yacht.
In the meantime Tony manages to make contact with Blue Chips (Mickey Rooney), who is kept in a luxury cell with tv set, telephone and other office machines, and behaves like a busy business man. A convict has managed to connect the tv set with Tony's radio. Thus Blue Chips can tell Tony that he knows about the job that God asked him to perform. Tony realizes that he won't have the guts to do it. Tony was supposed to stay in prison only until the killing, but now the killing looks unlikely and therefore he prepares to spend a long time behind bars. Tony writes a letter to Flo and licks the envelope without knowing that it contains LSD that Fred has been smuggling into the prison. Tony experiences for the first time the effect of drugs: all sorts of visions overlap, with God, Blue Chips, Flo and Darlene floating in and out, and ultimately revealing his fear that Darlene may not be his daughter because his wife slept with many other men.
Meanwhile on a high-tech boat, God (Groucho Marx) is playing pool with his girl, Elizabeth. Darlene needs to take a hot bath before being allowed into God's room because he's afraid of germs. Darlene asks God for her father's whereabouts while God casually unbuttons her coat. On the deck Stash is childishly playing with a half-naked Elizabeth. When God admits that her father is in jail, she looks for Stash and finds him wrestling with a sex-starved Elizabeth. In the morning God tries in vain to convince Stash to sell drugs on his behalf. Then calls Angie, who is in bed with Elizabeth, and offers him Darlene for convincing Tony to kill Blue Chips.
Meanwhile the three convincts have figured out a way to escape. They build a makeshift balloon and steal oxygen from the medical ward, and get the whole prison drugged with LSD. Therefore they can safely and fly out of the prison without the guards interfering.
At the same time Stash, helped by Elizabeth, makes a telephone call to his friends the hippies and gives them cryptic instructions that the hippies and Darlene's mother eventually decipher. They rush to his rescue.
God's yacht is surrounded by a small armada of boats full of hippies, led by Tony's wife dressed like an admiral. At the same time Tony's balloon is flying above the yacht and is shot down by God's men. God watches everything from his bunker. The hippies board the ship, with Flo singing a theme song of sorts and Tony rescuing his daughter. Total chaos erupts, with people dancing and singing. Tony keeps asking people where is God ("Does anybody here know where God is?") but Flo takes him to a cabin to make love. The skipper marries Angie and Elizabeth. A hippie marries Stash and Darlene. God has already left the ship and is drifting in the ocean in a boat alone with Fred, who is converting him to the hippie lifestyle, both already dressed like hare krishnas. The director's voice demands that the audience stop and read the closing credits of the film.
il patetico Tell me That you Love Me (1970), storia di tre reietti (una sfregiata, un omosessuale paralizzato e un epilettico ritardato), il grottesco Such Good Friends (1971), in cui una moglie scopre che il marito ha avuto per amant tutte le sue amiche.

I film degli anni Sessanta hanno in comune la prassi del processare un personaggio, soprattutto in base alla sua integrazione sociale; molti sono dei disadattati a causa di una personalita' ossessiva. Questo campionario di mostri dalle apparenze normali assomiglia a quello di Strohein.

Rosebud (1975) is about a terrorist group that kidnaps five millionaires' daughters for ransom.

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