This is a skillful and, on many counts, admirable picture. Bryan Forbes' writing and direction create an aptly clammy atmosphere and he's backed by some shrewd thesping.

This is a skillful and, on many counts, admirable picture. Bryan Forbes’ writing and direction create an aptly clammy atmosphere and he’s backed by some shrewd thesping.

Onus of the acting falls heavily on Kim Stanley and Richard Attenborough. Yet though she is an exciting actress to watch, she is much Method, and technicalities occasionally get in the way.

It throws extra responsibility on Attenborough as her weak, loving and downtrodden husband. Here is a splendid piece of trouping which rings true throughout.

The star is a medium of dubious authenticity, who inveigles her spouse into a nutty plan which she confidently believes will give her the recognition due to her. Idea is to ‘borrow’ a child, make out it has been kidnapped, collect the ransom loot and wait for the story to pump up to front page sensation. Then she aims to hold a seance and reveal clues which will enable the cops to find the child unharmed.

The film throughout is pitched in sombre key with much macabre reference to a son that the couple never had but in whom Stanley implicitly believes. The dankness of the house in which her shabby machinations evolve is well caught, thanks to deft artwork and Gerry Turpin’s searching camera.

Forbes’ well-written, imaginative script [from the novel by Mark McShane] is a study in grey, abetted by the fine lensing of Turpin. An exciting, ingenious highspot involves complicated production when Attenborough is due to collect the ransom money. It was shot with hidden cameras in Leicester Square and Piccadilly at London’s busiest hour. Result is an air of intense, exciting realism. So realistic, in fact, that parts of it had to be reshot.

1964: Nomination: Best Actress (Kim Stanley)

Seance on a Wet Afternoon



Beaver. Director Bryan Forbes; Producer Richard Attenborough; Screenplay Bryan Forbes; Camera Gerry Turpin; Editor Derek York; Music John Barry; Art Director Ray Simm


(B&W) Available on VHS. Extract of a review from 1964. Running time: 116 MIN.


Kim Stanley Richard Attenborough Nanette Newman Patrick Magee Mark Eden

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