THE HYPNOTIC EYE. Allied Artists, 1960. Jacques Bergerac, Merry Anders, Allison Hayes, Marcia Henderson, Joe Patridge, Fred Demara, Lawrence Lipton. Director: George Blair.

   The theme of this second-rank crime film — not a horror film per se, although there are some horrific scenes that take place during the course of it, but mostly offstage — is stage hypnotism. The film takes great pains to point out the beneficial results that hypnotism can produce — but at the end, with a wink, there is a warning to say in essence, don’t try this at home.

   It seems that a wave of beautiful women mutilating themselves has hit the city: attempting a facial massage with an electric fan; using a razor instead of lipstick; drinking lye instead of coffee; washing one’s hair over a gas flame instead of a sink. What could be behind these ghastly accidents?

   Det. Sgt. Dave Kennedy, played Joe Patridge, an actor previously unknown to me, doesn’t have a clue, but when his girl friend (long-haired brunette Marcia Henderson) insists they go see a stage hypnotist named Desmond (Jacques Bergerac), events start happening that even the slow-witted Kennedy can’t downplay or deny.

   The aforementioned Bergerac isn’t a great actor, but he has the eyes and voice (and French accent) of a stage magician, and if he ever had the chance to play Dracula in a film, I think he’d be remembered a lot more than he is. Allison Hayes plays his assistant on stage, but in one of her better roles, she — well, if I tell you any more then you’d know the whole story.

   The problem with this film isn’t its leaky plot devices, it’s that there just isn’t enough story to fill its running time. One long scene taking place in one of those hippie places of the early 60s, complete with Lawrence Lipton reciting a poem called “Confessions of a B Movie Addict,” accompanied by drum and acoustic bass is at least amusing. A longer scene that is probably not as long as it seems comes toward the end of the film as Desmond shows off his great powers by mass hypnotizing his entire audience.

   Pretty much pure hokum, in other words, but I would be willing to see Allison Hayes in almost anything, and if the story line doesn’t come to the level of the often noirish camera work, it isn’t Ed Wood level either.