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Peeping Tom (1960)

Peeping Tom

Mark is one of the best examples of voyeurism in the cinema.

Movie watchers become a certain type of voyeur. While voyeurism is mainly associated with sexual gratification, I feel a movie watcher can be a voyeur without being what someone may refer to as a pervert. Peeping Tom deals with this type of voyeurism (and some of the sexual kind) more so than almost any other movie imaginable (the only other better one I can think of is Hitchcock’s uncanny Rear Window).

Peeping Tom is a classic horror film, in that it deals with emotions more than just with blood (of which there is very little in the film). It tells the story of a camera man named Mark Lewis (Carl Boehm, whose performance reminded me a bit of Peter Lorre in M). He is the landlord of his apartment that was also his house as a child. He is also a murderer (this is evident in the first few minutes of the film). He is obssesed with facial expressions of the moment before death.We learn this is due to his childhood trauma of being recorded nearly all of his youth.

The thing that makes Mark so evil is that he really still has a human side as well. He meets his neighbor downstairs, Helen (Anna Massey). They begin a friendship which eventually could lead to a romance (what Mark does after he is kissed by Helen is mindboggling in it’s brilliance). Still, his “hobby” (I could not think of a better word) is his life, though he cares enough to say he will “never photograph Helen”.

Parents: There is quite a bit of suggestive material, and some rather revealing clothing. Breasts are shown, but only for a few seconds and can easily be missed. While the film is not rated, I would still classify it as an R (or a hard PG-13).

Over fifty years, later, Peeping Tom is still looked to as a classic (as is another film that came out that year, which was Hitchcock’s masterpiece Psycho). For those who still don’t think that they may have that voyeur in them, be aware the next time you are giving someone you know a present.

Are you looking at the gift, or the person’s face?

Overall: Four and a Half Stars **** 1/2

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