Monday, April 17, 2006

Seance Transfixes

1964's highly original Seance on a Wet Afternoon, starring Kim Stanley and Richard Attenbourgh, offers a chance to see two great performers in an involving tale concerning kidnapping, marital strife, and the supernatural.

Stanley's arresting work as Myra Savage allows one to see this legendary Broadway star and 'Actor's Actor' in possibly her best film work (1958's The Goddess is another peak for Stanley). Although Stanley's inventive take on a colorful role might sometimes appear too mannered or worked-out, I recollected the actress' agitated, pent-up line readings, tight shifts in facial movements, and jerky body language years after first seeing the movie- no other performer could've inhibited this part with the unique elan Stanley brings to the character (she won the NBR and NYFC's "Best Actress" awards, as well as an Oscar nod). Attenbourgh's performance as Billy, the sedate, quite husband who assists Myra in the elaborate scheme she creates to prove her gifts as a seer, provides a perfect understated counterpoint to Stanley's flamboyant portrayal. The film is a must for those interested in offbeat dramas featuring vivid performances.

The DVD I viewed presented an okay print of the film, with occasional scratches marring the picture. The sound was soft even with my tv at full volume (although I don't have great sound on my television, it usually comes through better than this).


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