"Don't you want to know what goes on inside those decadent Regency houses?" Hitchcock is the basis, Blackmail and Dial M for Murder principally, with a dash of Nouvelle Vague larkiness sprinkled under the opening titles for the first of several feints. The Dutch painter (Hardy Krüger) rushes to his beloved's luxurious London flat and finds a corpse and that's the nightmare setup, the rendezvous spot becomes a crime scene. The Scotland Yard inspector (Stanley Baker) wants answers, all the suspect has are memories of the frosty French beauty (Micheline Presle) he once met at the Bond Street gallery. "Please, is this a question one gentleman asks another?" "Oh, I'm not a gentleman." The artist up from the coal mines, the wanton who can't stand to be touched, the justice figure who needs aspirin, quite the fraught Joseph Losey arrangement. (A Mexican fertility idol is found in the protagonist's atelier, a little joke perhaps to complement the Van Dyck hanging on the lady's wall.) Revelations abound amidst the apartment's sundry objets d’art, every fur coat and wad of cash has something to say about the woman in question and the two blokes circling each other. Mirrors and canvases are prevalent, a diplomat's appearance at once muddies the investigation and clarifies it as a matter of bourgeois deception and working-class solidarity. (A police promotion pales next to the fate of a fellow struggling prole, the sophisticate's charade collapses in the face of emotion.) Losey's Laura, pointedly situated between Time Without Pity and Eva, "a meat axe like a lead pencil" describes the keen method. Insiders and outsiders, repugnance and envy, an entire systemic dissection in the interim between getting off the bus and getting on the bus near the Thames. With John Van Eyssen, Gordon Jackson, Robert Flemyng, and Jack MacGowran. In black and white.
--- Fernando F. Croce