Monday, October 26, 2009

Pressure Point

Pressure Point (1962) was directed by Hubert Cornfield and starred Sidney Poitier and Bobby Darin.

The movie opens with Sidney Poitier playing the chief psychiatrist at a clinic. It is the early 1960s and Peter Falk comes to his boss asking to be released from a case. The young psychiatrist (Falk) is having difficulty with an african american patient who has seen his father murdered by white men and his mother sell her body to white men. Falk's character thinks the patient would do better with a white psychiatrist.

Sidney's character tells Falk's character of a time in 1942 when he was a prison psychiatrist assigned to treat a Nazi sympathizer played by Bobby Darin.

The bulk of the film is told in flashbacks and there are flashbacks within flashbacks. The first main flashbacks are Sidney's character remembering his counseling sessions with Bobby's character. Then the film relays in flashbacks Bobby's childhood and how he became a member of the Nazi party.

The counseling sessions become a battleground in a test of wills between Sidney and Bobby's characters, that can leave only one man in control.

One of the most fascinating things about this movie, is none of the characters have names. Bobby Darin is merely credited as the patient. Sidney Poitier is credited as Chief Psychiatrist. Peter Falk is credited as Young Psychiatrist.

Bobby Darin gives an excellent performance. He plays the distrubed psychotic bigot patient very well. There is one scene where Bobby's character and his friends wreck havoc on a husband/wife bar with games of tic tac toe. It is hard to describe here but watching the scene, Bobby's character turns the game tic tac toe into a weapon and psychologically tortues the bar's owners with games of tic tac toe.

Sidney's character does not only battle wills with Bobby's character but with his superiors who question Sidney's judgement believing it is clouded by his extreme dislike for Bobby's racist ideas.

The dialogue in this film is incredible. There are no special effects, there are no lavish scenery, the entire movie's greatness is based on dialogue and the musical score.

I highly recommend this psychological drama.

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