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The Powell & Pressburger Pages

Dedicated to the work of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger and all the other people, both actors and technicians who helped them make those wonderful films.

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Review from June 1960 issue of ABC Film Review


He is a young man, handsome, well-proportioned, talented, and attractive to the opposite sex. But Mark Lewis (Carl Boehme) is a long way indeed from being everything he seems, for this quiet-spoken youngster is an insane killer of the most ruthless kind.

Peeping Tom is the story of a young cameraman in a film studio, who in his spare time takes "art" photographs for the under-counter trade in sleazy bookshops. With the money derived from this dubious source, he buys the photographic equipment he requires to follow a far more criminal bent.

Mark's father was a famous scientist who devoted his life to the study of fear neurosis, using Mark as a "guinea pig" by subjecting him to every kind of terror and recording his reactions with a cine camera. Mark, grown up, finds himself obsessed with a desire to record on celluloid the anguisehd fear of young girls who are being put to death and who know they are about to die.

In his home, Mark has fitted out the top floor as a processing lab and projection room. Here, as producer-director-cameraman, he watches the grizzly "rushes" of his real-life horror films. The rest of the house is let, and among the tenants are Helen Stephens (Anna Massey) and her blind mother (Maxine Audley).

On the occasion of her 21st birthday party, Helen becomes friendly with Mark. He later invites her to his room and shows her a film his father took of him as a child. Helen is utterly appalled by what she sees.

At the film studio, Mark induces an ambitious bit part player (Moira Shearer) to return to the set after working hours on the pretext of giving her a screen test. Something far more horrifying awaits her when she keeps her dread tryst.

Peeping Tom is a different kind of horror film in the sense that the spectator is often in sympathy with the killer, who is what he is through the misplaced zeal of his father. Produced and directed by Michael Powell and photographed in colour, this film is "strong meat" for all thriller fans.


Left: Vivian (Moira Shearer) innocently displays her acting talents before Mark (Carl Boehme) unaware that he is plotting her murder. Below: In fascinated horror, Helen (Anna Massey) watches a film which Mark's father had taken of him as a boy.

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