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Experiment in Terror

On the way into her house, Kelly Sherwood (Lee Remick) is grabbed by a man who threatens to kill her and her sister if she doesn't cooperate in robbing the bank where she works. Frightened, Kelly agrees, but once she's alone — though she's been warned against it — she is able to get in touch with the FBI and John "Rip" Ripley (Glenn Ford). Though keeping their communication as discrete as possible, the two work together to keep the criminal from getting his loot, though there at a disadvantage — Kelly has never seen her assailant and only heard his voice. Blake Edwards' 1962 Experiment in Terror plays like a film noir made by someone who's better versed at cop dramas than cinematic suspense; it's flat and uninteresting compared to the best the genre has to offer. Perhaps it's because the movie came at the end of this particular genre's cycle, or perhaps it was because Edwards — at a transition point in his career between segueing successfully from television to becoming the master of Inspector Clouseau — shoots the picture like a TV melodrama. And the "terror" in question comes from the culprit's (Ross Martin) wheezing and showing up in drag to terrorize Kelly. Both Remick and Ford are good, but they mostly are in on a chase; great noir works when it suggests shades of gray in the characters. Here, there is only the pursuit of a thief/murderer who's fate is sealed by the opening credits. Of note is a murder sequence staged in a mannequin factory, which may have been an homage to Stanley Kubrick's 1955 Killer's Kiss and was paid reference to in such films as 1987's The Hidden and 1998's Knock Off. Columbia TriStar's DVD release of Experiment in Terror presents the film in beautiful black and white anamorphic widescreen (1.85:1) and monaural 2.0 audio. Extras consist of a trailer for this and other films noir. Keep-case.

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