Someone Behind the Door (1971)
I was hesitant to review this film because it's rather obscure and because it will bore most of you to tears. I'll tell you what, if you want to see Charles Bronson crush a giant Mexican's junk with his meaty paw and then kill him by stepping on his throat, watch The Evil that Men Do. If you want to see Bronson show off his acting chops in a slow Hitchcockian thriller, watch Someone Behind the Door. This film was made before Bronson became the 1980s tough-guy vigilante and caricature of himself, so he actually does some acting in it. In fact, the performances are the best part of this film.
An amnesiac (Bronson) is brought to the hospital by a local fisherman after the confused man is found wandering on the beach. Dr. Laurence Jeffries (Anthony Perkins), a neurosurgeon, examines him and tells his staff that the man is just drunk and that he is going to give him a ride to the train station. Instead, he takes the man to his home.
He tells the mysterious stranger that he's going to help the man regain his memory, but he has sinister plans. Dr. Jeffries's wife (Jill Ireland) is having an affair and he knows about it.
His plan (as preposterous as it is) is to use psychological tricks to convince this simple, violent amnesiac with "schizophrenic tendencies" that Dr. Jeffries's wife is actually the amnesiac's wife and that the man she's having the affair with murdered her. This way Bronson's character will become enraged and kill the man Dr. Jeffries's wife is sleeping with (because he thinks she's his wife and that this man killed her) and Jeffries won't be implicated in the murder.
It doesn't make any sense because even if this plan worked, the police would still figure out what was going on when they questioned Bronson's character. But whatever. Things don't go exactly as planned anyway.
In St. Ives we (the royal "we". You know, the editorial...) saw a restrained, less violent version of Charles Bronson which seemed strange considering the ultra-violent Bronson movie stereotype. In Someone Behind the Door, Bronson gives us a character that is downright vulnerable, confused and emotionally weak.
The performances are what make this movie worth watching. Anthony Perkins again plays a variation of his Psycho character, but plays it well. Jill Ireland is convincing (and easy on the eyes) as the wife of the not-so-good doctor and Bronson gives one of his best performances. The plot is indeed preposterous, but the director, Nicolas Gessner (who also directed The Little Girl Who Lives Down the Lane) almost makes it seem plausible until the final confrontation when everything just falls apart. The ending just feels weak.
Violence Rating/Index: 2 out of 5
Booby Rating/Index: 2 out of 5 - Click to see the nude scenes.