This film stars Americans Carol Lynley and Keir Dullea and is superbly directed by golden era Hollywood maverick Otto Preminger, but otherwise is an entirely British production, both in setting and cast. Laurence Olivier gets star billing, but in a change from his usual set chewing antics gives about the most restrained and subtle performance in the film. Restrained and subtle is not something that you can call Noel Coward‘s extended guest spots and the film is populated throughout with British “eccentrics” of various kinds and degrees.
John and Penelope Mortimer deserve lots of credit for a witty and ingeniously suspenseful screenplay, and successfully transplanting the novel’s action to London. In the process they fill it with memorable British eccentrics, including a collector of childrens’ nightmares living above a nursery school (Martita Hunt), a doll-surgeon in a terrifying maze of dead-eyed toys (Finlay Currie), and of course the creepy landlord/actor (Coward). The dialogue has the same economy and incidental humour I admire in John Mortimer’s later Rumpole stories, and treads a fine line to keep the viewer guessing for a long time.
Preminger’s camera follows the characters in a somewhat similar fashion to Van Sant’s films like Elephant, as they explore the spaces where the little girl supposedly disappeared. Ironically, Preminger’s seemingly objective mise en scène only expresses the fallibility of objectivity and trusting (superficial) facts and appearances. However, the closer the characters get to the facts, the crazier and more subjective the film becomes. In a mad world lucidity is not the key to certainty, insanity is.
Mystery, Thriller | USA, 1965 | 12 | 27th February 2017 (UK) | Powerhouse Films | Dir: Otto Preminger | Laurence Olivier, Keir Dullea, Carol Lynley, Noel Coward | Buy:Bunny Lake Is Missing [Limited Dual Format Edition] [Blu-Ray]
* Audio commentary with film historians Lem Dobbs, Julie Kirgo and Nick Redman.
* Carol Lynley Remembers: the actress discusses her career and working with Otto Preminger.
* Clive Revill Remembers: the celebrated actor discuss his role as Andrews.
* Isolated score track.
* Original theatrical trailers and Image gallery.
* Limited edition exclusive 24-page booklet with a new essay by Chris Fujiwara, archival interview material with Otto Preminger, rare colour on-set photography, and a selection of contemporary reviews.