THE COLLECTOR/1965/TERENCE STAMP
1965/Director: William Wyler/ Writers: John Fowles (novel), Stanley Mann (script)
Cast: Terence Stamp, Samantha Eggar, Mona Washbourne, Maurice Dallimore
The Collector is a film by William Wyler starring basically two actors in a almost stage style performance. Terrance Stamp plays butterfly collector Freddie Clegg who is brilliant but has an incredible inferiority complex. He works as a clerk who is taunted by his co-workers but one day wins a substantial fortune in the British football pool. He uses his money to buy and equip a isolated, rustic old house in the country side. By equip I mean he turns the Gothic looking cellar into a furnished holding cell meant to contain one Miranda Grey (Sammantha Eggar) who he had developed an obsession with and is determined to make her fall in love with him. The first step in his bizarre courtship is to chloroform her then kidnap her and haul her back to her cell. She has no idea where she is or what Freddie’s intentions really are.
The film focuses on the tension and conflicts between educated and born into money Miranda and once working class Freddie who is now wealthy and has a lot of free time on his hands. Both actors deliver excellent performances. The movie follows Hitchcock’s Psycho and while technically Psycho is a better made film, The Collector is a more believable study of a broken mind. One cannot help but sympathize somehow with Freddie’s plight (and Stamp’s performance adds to our ability to connect with the unhinged young man). We almost wish that Miranda will little by little actually come around to Freddie or that he will honor his word and release her at the time he promises at the beginning of her captivity. None of this is to be and the film ends tragically, but not with Freddie being killed off by his captive, but with the death of Miranda from exposure to the elements basically. Some reviews I refer to Freddie as a serial killer, but this is not the case at all. He sincerely means no harm to Miranda and while he is forceful he is never brutal or sadistic. As the film progresses however and the worlds from which Freddie and Miranda were born into seem to remain distant and unknown to the other Freddie get more and more frustrated and Miranda more and more terrified. In one scene Freddie tried to understand Miranda’s interest in Picasso and J.D Salinger and destroys the books he bough her. In another Miranda insults Freddie’s prize winning butterfly collection that he shyly reveals to her, hoping to show something of his true self to her.
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