Review: Still of the Night

This film is from 1982 starring Roy Scheider and Meryl Streep.  Still of the Night is written and directed by Robert Benton.  This is not the best work of any of these three, but it is an interesting film to watch.  The story is a psychological thriller in the vein of Hitchcock, but falls a little short in the end.

This story starts with Scheider as a psychiatrist, whose patient is killed.  We have flashbacks of his patient telling him little tidbits of information through out the film.  This included a dream, which Scheider and his psychiatrist mother played by Jessica Tandy analyse in-depth.  This comes in handy later in the film.  We also meet the patient’s mistress, played by Streep.  Of course Scheider falls for Streep, even though he and the police feel she may be the killer.  The killer strikes again and our mystery thickens.  Yeah, it’s pretty cookie cutter psychological thriller 101.

I have to say that the story really let down the rest of this film.  The film is one of those that go along great for 7/8th of the film and then just falls apart in the end. The two leads are great, I personally think Scheider is an underrated actor and we all know that it doesn’t get much better than Streep.  The directing and cinematography are good, with some great scenes in Central Park and the old house which appears in the dream are stylish and interesting.

Benton is a great writer and has written some of the best screenplays in recent silver screen history.  Three noir favorites of his, which I absolutely love are Twilight, Bonnie and Clyde and The Ice Harvest.  If you are new to Benton or just want to watch his best, I would start with these three.  He also has worked on some non-noir films that are very good too(check out Nobody’s Fool if you haven’t seen it yet).  If you are a die-hard fan of Benton, you should check out this film and if you are a fan of the two big stars, it is worth checking out.  It’s not a horrible film, but there is much better work to choice from, when looking at this talent.

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