Review: ‘Paranoiac’

Paranoiac marks the directorial debut of Freddie Francis, British cameraman. Lack of experience proves no handicap for Francis, however, as he sculpts a suspenseful and smartly-paced opus out of Jimmy Sangster's effective screenplay.

Paranoiac marks the directorial debut of Freddie Francis, British cameraman. Lack of experience proves no handicap for Francis, however, as he sculpts a suspenseful and smartly-paced opus out of Jimmy Sangster’s effective screenplay.

Plot is a reworking of the imposter-heir swindle bit in which someone poses as a long-lost member of a family who just happens to turn up in time to claim a tidy inheritance. The phoney is impersonating a young man believed by members of his family to have committed suicide when a boy, following the death of his parents. His sister deeply misses him but his brother wouldn’t mind it at all if the sister vanished too so he could have all the loot for himself. In fact he tries to convince his sister and their aunt that she’s nuts so they’ll pack her off and leave him with the inheritance all to himself.

Oliver Reed plays the scheming brother with demonic skill, blending bits of spoiled brat and sneaky madman for a menacing portrayal. Janette Scott is pretty and disarming as the sister and emotes credibly. Alexander Davion makes a fine baddie-turned-hero, thesping with ease and believability.

Paranoiac

UK

Production

Hammer. Director Freddie Francis; Producer Anthony Hinds; Screenplay Jimmy Sangster; Camera Arthur Grant; Editor James Needs; Music Elizabeth Lutyens; Art Director Bernard Robinson

Crew

(B&W) Widescreen. Available on DVD. Extract of a review from 1963. Running time: 80 MIN.

With

Janette Scott Oliver Reed Liliane Brousse Alexander Davion Maurice Denham

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