PEEPING TOM. Anglo-Amalgamated Films, UK, 1960. Carl Boehm, Moira Shearer, Anna Massey, Maxine Audley, Brenda Bruce. Director: Michael Powell.

   Tom is a young photographer (English, but played incongruously by German actor Carl Boehm) who photographs the death-scenes of young women who imagine that he is giving them screen-tests. Boehm’s flat performance is chilling, and I find this film as disquieting as Hitchcock’s Psycho.

   The camera eye seduces the victims and the audience, and there is an extended, bravura sequence in a film studio that portrays the protagonist’s heightened sexual excitement so graphically that many viewers may find it intensely disturbing.

   The film was a box-office failure when it was first released (at a time when audiences preferred the Hammer films’ tamer eroticism) and virtually put an end to Powell’s film career. The director of such distinguished films as Black Narcissus, The Red Shoes, and The Tales of Hoffman photographs this in bright, glossy color that make the scenes of violence all the more disturbing.

   You may find this film disgusting, but I don’t think you will be insensitive to its power.

— From The MYSTERY FANcier, Vol. 6, No. 3, May-June 1982.