Diane Cilento and Stephen Boyd star in THE THIRD SECRET, directed by Charles Crichton for 20th Century Fox.

The Third Secret (1964, Charles Crichton)

Between Crichton’s fantastic CinemaScope composition and Douglas Slocombe’s wondrous black and white photography, it’d be hard not admire The Third Secret. It’s an engaging enough thriller, though it does run into the problem of having one ending too many.

Stephen Boyd plays an American television journalist working in London–one of the lovely things about the script is how little is explained, we find out very little about Boyd’s life before the present action of the film–and he investigates the death of his psychologist. Joseph’s script has some problems with that subject, the topic of analysis needing lots of exposition and reminders there’s no shame. It hurts the film at times, but not significantly.

Boyd’s performance is impressive, since he’s adapting a character performance for a lead role. The friendship between him and Pamela Franklin (she plays the dead psychologist’s daughter) is touching and quite well executed. Franklin’s performance is great.

The rest of the supporting cast is solid. Diane Cilento and Paul Rogers are standouts.

A lot of time is spent developing Boyd’s character and the friendship with Franklin so the mystery aspect suffers. The two surprise endings are both pretty boring. The first one seems a little more believable–and there are some hints to a possible third ending they didn’t include.

The film, with Boyd and Franklin’s performances, should be a lot stronger. The mystery isn’t compelling, which seems like a conscious choice. Unfortunately, the attention the wanders, instead of focusing on the film’s successes.

But worth a look.

1.5/4★½

CREDITS

Directed by Charles Crichton; written by Robert L. Joseph; director of photography, Douglas Slocombe; edited by Frederick Wilson; music by Richard Arnell; production designer, Thomas N. Morahan; produced by Joseph and Hugh Perceval; released by 20th Century Fox.

Starring Stephen Boyd (Alex Stedman), Jack Hawkins (Sir Frederick Belline), Richard Attenborough (Alfred Price-Gorham), Diane Cilento (Anne Tanner), Pamela Franklin (Catherine Whitset), Paul Rogers (Dr. Milton Gillen), Alan Webb (Alden Hoving), Rachel Kempson (Mildred Hoving), Peter Sallis (Lawrence Jacks), Patience Collier (Mrs. Pelton), Freda Jackson (Mrs. Bales), Judi Dench (Miss Humphries), Peter Copley (Dr. Leo Whitset), Nigel Davenport (Lew Harding) and Charles Lloyd Pack (Dermot McHenry).

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