See No Evil
Cast & Crew
In England, a killer wearing cowboy boots emblazoned with a silver star exits a pornographic movie theater and strides arrogantly through the violence-strewn town. One of the cars he passes belongs to Betty and George Rexton, who are bringing home their niece Sarah, who was recently blinded in a fall from a horse. In their lovely home, Manor Farm, Sarah impresses her aunt, uncle and cousin Sandy with her independence and will. One day while the Rextons are in town, the killer vandalizes their car, while back home, Sarah explores the house's now-empty stables, disturbed by gardener Barker's insinuation that her horse, Dandy Star, was put down even though its leg was not broken. When Sarah's ex-boyfriend, Steve Reding, invites her to visit his stables the next day, she reluctantly agrees, unwilling to "burden" him in her handicapped state. While Sarah readies to meet Steve and Sandy prepares for a date, the killer ogles women dancing in a local pub. Sarah is picked up by Frost, Steve's right-hand man, who grouses when a gypsy trailer blocks the road. At the stable, Steve greets her warmly, soon inquiring why she refused to allow him to visit her in the hospital. They are interrupted by Steve's groom Jacko, who announces a mare is foaling. After the animal is born, Steve introduces Sarah to a chestnut horse, much like Dandy Star. Admiring him, she asks to ride, and Steve leads her on a lovely outing through the nearby fields. While the killer pays a visit to Manor Farm, Sarah informs Steve that she will soon leave for London to take a course in physiotherapy. He urges her to stay and resume their relationship, but she rides away, crying. Steve drops her back at home, where she is unable to see that Betty, George and Sandy have been killed, and that the murderer's bracelet is lying on the hall floor. Sarah goes to sleep, and in the morning wakes and begins to draw a bath, but before she can discover Sandy's body lying on the bed next to hers or George's body stretched out in the tub, Steve arrives and calls her outside. There, he presents her with the chestnut horse, which he has named Dandy Star. Declaring happily that now she will have to stay, he leads her on another ride, during which they share a passionate kiss. When Sarah returns home and runs another bath, she feels her uncle's body beneath her fingers and, horrified, races through the house, stumbling upon the other bodies. In her panic, she falls down the stairs into the basement. At the same time, the killer is in his squalid flat washing the blood from his clothes when he notices that his bracelet is missing. In the basement, Sarah stumbles back up the stairs and runs into Barker, who is clutching a wound in his chest. Dying, he tells her that a man killed the family, then upon spotting Barker, shot him and ran away. Barker collapses but whispers to Sarah that the killer left his bracelet and helps her locate it on the floor. She asks him to read an engraving on the bracelet's face, but receiving no answer, she realizes the gardener has died. Just then, the killer returns to retrieve the incriminating bracelet. Hearing his footsteps outside, she tries to call the police, but finds the wires cut. As he forces his way into the house and climbs the stairs, she hides, terrified, behind a pillar. While tryign to escape, Sarah knocks over a lamp, alerting the killer to her presence. As he comes downstairs, she runs through the kitchen, slicing her foot on a shard of glass. She hides in the stable as he searches for her, then mounts Dandy Star and flees, narrowly evading the killer's grasp. As she gallops through the woods toward Steve's, Sarah rides into a tree branch and is thrown to the ground. Wandering frantically through the woods, she finally reaches a gypsy camp, where a kind woman takes her in. Her son Tom soon arrives, and upon hearing that she is from Manor Farm and reading the bracelet's inscription, he states that he will take her to the police. Assuming that the bracelet belonds to his brother Jack, Tom istead drives her to a vast clay pit, locking her inside a shack. While Sarah claws at the shack's walls trying to break through them, Dandy Star returns to Steve's stable. Noting that the horse bears blood but is not cut, he takes Frost and Jacko to search for Sarah. At Manor Farm, they discover the bodies, call the police and rush to search for Sarah. She has managed to rip a hole in the wall and climb through, and after screaming herself hoarse, she pounds scrap metal to create noise. When Steve drives by, he hears the pounding and locates Sarah, who collapses in his arms. He brings her to his home at the stables, where a doctor treats her foot. Steve, who has decided that the gypsies are to blame, rounds up his men to find Tom, leaving Jacko to guard Sarah. At the same time, Tom rides through town to locate Jack. Upon locating him, Tom brings him home, shows him the bracelet and punches him. Jack, however, swears the bracelet is not his and that he merely visited Manor Farm for a date with Sandy, but found no one home. Just then, Steve and his men arrive. Tom shows the bracelet to Steve, who sees that it reads "Jacko." He rushes home, but Jacko, the killer, has surprised Sarah in her bath and is holding her face underwater. Although she struggles valiantly, he overpowers her and she is about to pass out when Steve bursts in. After a brief fight, Steve knocks out Jacko and takes Sarah in his arms.
See No Evil (1971)
Shot in Berkshire, England, this lushly photographed thriller from director Richard Fleischer, was largely a British affair in terms of cast and crew with Ms. Farrow the sole American actor in the mix (though she plays an upper class Brit). Sarah has been recently blinded by a fall from a horse and is recuperating at the sprawling country estate of her aunt, uncle and cousin. While she is out one afternoon with her ex-boyfriend Steve, an uninvited guest makes a house call, leaving behind a house full of corpses. When Sarah returns later, she is puzzled by the unexplained absence of her relatives until she discovers the bloody body of her uncle in the tub the next day while drawing a bath. Fleeing the house in terror with a crucial piece of evidence that the killer left behind - an engraved bracelet - Sarah barely escapes being caught by the maniac but her trials are just beginning.
While See No Evil frightened some filmgoers at the time of its release, the film, apart from Farrow's effective performance, has not held up well over the years. The mechanical, cliché-ridden premise is tediously protracted and overtly manipulative to often risible effect; there are so many close-up shots of the killer's star-decorated cowboy boots as he stalks his prey throughout the movie that they deserve a headliner screen credit as "The Boots." In addition, every suspenseful moment is telegraphed well in advance. When we are shown a broken glass on the kitchen floor repeatedly, we know that the barefoot heroine will run across it blindly as she's being chased through the house later. The gimmick of a blind girl in jeopardy begins to seem like some sort of cruel joke as the movie progresses, requiring Farrow to run into objects, be slapped and abused by gypsies, fall down a steep embankment, wallow in mucky red clay, get scratched by tree branches, and almost drown in a bathtub. The elfin, child-like Farrow is game for anything though and gets a major workout here that is physically and emotionally exhausting for both the actress and the viewer.
There are also several ill-judged visual attempts to provide some psychological insights into the killer's motivation by showing him leaving a theatre playing a double bill of "The Covent Murders" and "Rapist Cult," window shopping in front of a weapons store, ogling strippers in a bar, and reading violent comic books. Red herrings are in abundance and the issue of class conflict is even raised as a motive for the family's murder in several unnecessary early scenes depicting the gulf between the haves and the have-nots.
Director Richard Fleischer has helmed some fast, efficient B-movie thrillers in the past such as Armored Car Robbery (1950), The Narrow Margin (1952) and Violent Saturday (1955) but See No Evil seems clumsy and heavy-handed in its technique (the zoom lens is working overtime). Despite an obviously bigger budget than his fifties noirs and first rate collaborators such as composer Elmer Bernstein, cinematographer Gerry Fisher (Accident , The Go-Between ), and art director John Hoesli (2001: A Space Odyssey ), the movie has the feel of a cheap exploitation film and not an A-picture. One would also expect a much more intelligent screenplay from Brian Clemens, the Emmy-nominated scenarist of the cult TV series The Avengers and such underrated sleepers as And Soon the Darkness (1970). Under the circumstances, it is not hard to guess why Mia Farrow doesn't even mention See No Evil in her memoirs.
She was living in London at the time with her husband composer Andre Previn and most likely accepted the role since it didn't require her to travel far from her family. Initially Previn was supposed to score See No Evil but, due to a dispute with the filmmakers, his compositions were not used and he was replaced by Elmer Bernstein who supplied a new score.
When See No Evil was released in theatres, it proved to be a box-office disappointment despite some superficial similarities to the box office hit Wait Until Dark (1967) in which Audrey Hepburn played a blind woman terrorized by a psychopath. Reviews were generally mixed with this assessment from The New York Times typical of the film's general reception: "...perhaps 30 minutes out of a total hour and a half, "See No Evil," has its share of thrills. Cheap thrills, to be sure, but thrills nonetheless... Attempting on the one hand to mean something and on the other hand trying to crank up the terror, Fleischer keeps suggesting confrontations between the rich and the poor, the old and the young, families with daughters to protect and men with warped desires. For all the potency of a camera movement, it can never have exactly the power of a conceptual image, and therefore "See No Evil" is better with its mindless terror than with its witless meaning. And although everything becomes far too much long before it is over, the movie is generally at it most ridiculous precisely where it hopes to make sense."
Producers: Leslie Linder, Martin Ransohoff
Director: Richard Fleischer
Screenplay: Brian Clemens
Cinematography: Gerry Fisher
Art Direction: John Hoesli
Music: Elmer Bernstein
Film Editing: Thelma Connell
Cast: Mia Farrow (Sarah), Dorothy Alison (Betty Rexton), Robin Bailey (George Rexton), Diane Grayson (Sandy Rexton), Brian Rawlinson (Barker), Norman Eshley (Steve Reding), Paul Nicholas (Jacko), Christopher Matthews (Frost), Max Faulkner (Steve's Man #1), Scott Fredericks (Steve's Man #2), Reg Harding (Steve's Man #3), Lila Kaye (Gypsy Mother), Barrie Houghton (Gypsy Jack),Michael Elphick (Gypsy Tom), Donald Bisset (Doctor).
C-89m. Closed captioning. Letterboxed.
by Jeff Stafford
Mia Farrow: Flower Child, Madonna, Muse by Sam Rubin and Richard Taylor (St. Martin's Press)
See No Evil (1971)
nThe film's working title was Buff and it was released in Great Britain under the title Blind Terror. Throughout most of See No Evil, the killer is shown only from the neck down, identified by his starred cowboy boots. His face, and therefore his true identity, is not revealed to the audience until the scene during which he attempts to drown Sarah in the bathtub. During the opening credits, he is shown walking through town, where violence and murder feature prominently in the media and commerce. Some reviews noted that this lurid atmosphere provided a motive to the killer's psychosis, while others indicated that class conflict was the cause.
As noted onscreen, the film was shot on location in Berkshire, England. See No Evil was originally scored by star Mia Farrow's then-husband, composer André Previn, but as noted in a September 1971 Los Angeles Times article, the filmmakers replaced his music with a score by Elmer Bernstein. Filmfacts related that Previn, who had been hired at Farrow's behest and used the London Symphony Orchestra to play the music, later declared to reporters that he had always disliked the movie. The dispute was widely publicized in the British press.
In a May 1973 Daily Variety article, American producer Martin Ransohoff stated that the film had cost $1.1 million and made less than $1 million in the United States. He blamed this on the fact that Farrow starred in a television movie, Goodbye, Raggedy Ann, at the same time that the film opened.
Released in United States 1971
Released in United States 1971