Combustible Celluloid
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With: Roy Scheider, Meryl Streep, Jessica Tandy, Joe Grifasi, Sara Botsford, Josef Sommer, Frederikke Borge, Irving Metzman
Written by: Robert Benton, based on a story by David Newman, Robert Benton
Directed by: Robert Benton
MPAA Rating: PG
Running Time: 93
Date: 11/19/1982

Still of the Night (1982)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Bait and Hitch

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Previously, Robert Benton won Oscars for Best Screenplay and Best Director for Kramer vs. Kramer, and so it was probably a surprise (and a disappointment) that he followed it up with this Hitchcock homage. Still of the Night doesn't entirely work, and it probably works less well today than it did in 1982, but it still contains enough quiet suspense to make it worth a look. Roy Scheider stars as psychiatrist Sam Rice. One of his patients has been murdered, and the police turn up asking if he knows anything. He doesn't, but soon after the pretty Brooke Reynolds (Meryl Streep) shows up, acting very suspiciously, claiming to have been involved in some capacity with the dead man. Everything points to Brooke being the murderer, but Sam risks his career to find out one way or another. One scene takes place at an auction (like in North by Northwest) and the analysis of a dream helps solve the murder (like in Spellbound). Even Jessica Tandy (from The Birds) is here as Sam's mother. Benton's strength has always been in his writing and characters, and he has even been known to tell a good mystery story, but he doesn't have the visual flourish of Hitchcock. Even so, Scheider is just right in his role, and Streep lends some of her high-class acting to a monologue about Brooke's childhood. (She has stated that this is her worst film, but it's much better than The Iron Lady.) Kino Lorber released it on Blu-ray in 2015, with no extras other than trailers.

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