Review: Peeping Tom

Karl Boehm is a deeply troubled, sensitive photographer (mostly of still nudie pictures) who uses his camera and its tripod as a weapon (!) to photograph women at the moment of their death (!!). Anna Massey is the cute, rather naive girl who lives downstairs and takes a fascination to the wrong neighbour. Moira Shearer has glorified cameo as a film extra Boehm photographs dancing, after hours. Maxine Audley is Massey’s blind, alcoholic mother who is fearful and deeply (and instantly) suspicious of the disturbed Boehm.

Engrossing 1960 Michael Powell (“The Red Shoes”, the gorgeous melodrama “Black Narcissus”) cult favourite just about ruined the director’s career, for reasons that seem rather silly now, given how tame the film appears today. It’s a fascinating, chilling, influential, and complex character study and crime-thriller. Boehm’s sensitive, brilliant performance (somewhere between the handsome Simon Ward and the creepy Peter Lorre) deserves to be considered in the same league as Anthony Perkins’ portrayal of Norman Bates in “Psycho”, though the characters and their stories certainly differ somewhat. I personally felt more for Boehm’s character than I did for Norman, who was just plain kooky and socially awkward to say the least.

A must for film buffs especially, and that’s Powell himself as Boehm’s father in an unsettling cameo, by the way. Scripted by Leo Marks (“Guns at Batasi”), this is disturbing, powerful, and still not as well-known as it should be.

Rating: B+


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