An American Gentleman's Profile - Rotten Tomatoes

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The Slender Thread
10 years ago via Rotten Tomatoes

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[i]The Slender Thread[/i] was Sydney Pollock's first movie. It's a good start to a distinguished career.

The story centers around a suicidal woman (played beautifully by Anne Bancroft), and a young volunteer at a crisis phone center (portrayed with equal ability by Sidney Poitier). Bancroft's character has already overdosed on sleeping pills, and we watch as Poitier desperately tries to get her to reveal her location over the phone. We never see her in these scenes, we just hear her calm fatalistic voice. That's half the film, the other half is composed of flashbacks that explain how she ended up where she is. Both halves are compelling, and they come together to form an interesting, and surprisingly suspenseful whole.

It's an atmospheric, well directed film. One scene in particular jumps out at me as being ahead of it's time. In a flashback, Bancroft and her husband go to a rather wild party. Pollock skillfully inter cuts scenes of dance floor madness with the sexual fantasy that it inspires in Bancroft's head. The frenetic cutting, intense music, and rapid changes in lighting assault the audience. Today it sounds cheap, similar techniques have become cliche on film and television when it comes to showing wild youthful "rave" scenes. But in 1965, a scene like that was quite unusual, and in terms of technique, very sophisticated.

Technical prowess aside, it's a riveting film, anchored by two stellar performances. Bancroft and Poitier are both at the top of their game, and have marvelous chemistry with each other, despite the fact that they never appear together in the flesh. Suspenseful, and thoughtful at the same time, [i]The Slender Thread[/i] comes highly recommended.


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