• Blake Edwards had a big 1962. He was coming off 1961’s Breakfast at Tiffany’s and delivered both this, Experiment in Terror, and Days of Wine and Roses in 1962. Both of his 1962 efforts were captured in black and white photography, and both starred Lee Remick.
  • There is an interesting reading of Experiment of Terror as purely an influence on David Lynch. Lynch fans and scholars should see it. I have not seen it listed as one of Lynch’s favorite films, but the clear influences are aplenty. The film is set in Twin Peaks (though clearly this is San Francisco- a great character in film with the Golden Gate bridge in the opening credits and the elevation changes). There are a half-dozen other clear influences on the great auteur.

clear influences on Lynch- including a shot of Remick being accosted from behind that looks like Dafoe’s short stint terrifying Laura Dern in Wild at Heart (1990).

  • Edwards’ frequent collaborator Henry Mancini does the score, and it is one of his finest. It is almost a let-down when the credits stop, and the Frank Booth in Blue Velvet-like killer shows up to torture Remick. He has a raspy, asthmatic voice.
  • Philip Lathrop, the DP here, was a camera operator on Welles Touch of Evil just a few years before (1958).

Edwards invests more thought into the compositions than he normally does. There is a clear dedication to the Venetian blind aesthetic. It happens early in the film on Glenn Ford’s face (this is really the end of Glenn Ford as a star in the early 1960’s- he’s a fine as the hero here). Again, Edwards brings it back at the 52-minute mark, the 65-minute mark, the 84-minute mark at the bank, and finally at the 104-minute mark with the killer (named “Lynch” in the film- a well-cast Ross Martin) in his lair.

  • The mannequin-filled apartment makes for a great set piece at the 36-minute mark (this is two years before Bava’s Blood and Black Lace). When you combine Mancini’s fearful music you have quite a scene.

At the 39-minute mark there is a fantastic composition with the killer hidden among the mannequins.

Yet another impressive mise-en-scene set-up is the shot with the frame cut in half by the mannequin at the 44-minute mark between Ford and the landlord of the apartment.

  • Extreme close-ups on the phone—this is also a major shot in the David Lynch playbook

At the 72-minute mark the Lisa Soong character (Anita Loo) is front right of the frame, with her lawyer in the background left

  • It turns into a manhunt in San Francisco after. Remick is so pretty that you feel her fear of the male gaze from just about every man in the city (whether they are the killer or not- totally believable).
  • Candlestick Park set-piece finale—even ends with a helicopter crane shot pulling away (which Dirty Harry would do in 1971). This is before the real Zodiac killer started terrorizing San Francisco in 1968.
  • Recommend