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Peeping Tom

Peeping Tom

4.3 3
Director: Michael Powell

Cast: Karl Heinz Böhm, Moira Shearer, Anna Massey

Criterion quality shows on Peeping Tom. The picture quality, for a film that is more than 40 years old, is outstanding. This is no doubt due to two things. First is the restoration work the film has received. Second, and very important to DVD owners, is the fact that Criterion used a new anamorphic transfer based on the restored 35 mm interpositive. The sound, a


Criterion quality shows on Peeping Tom. The picture quality, for a film that is more than 40 years old, is outstanding. This is no doubt due to two things. First is the restoration work the film has received. Second, and very important to DVD owners, is the fact that Criterion used a new anamorphic transfer based on the restored 35 mm interpositive. The sound, a one-channel monaural track, which is appropriate for the time the film was made, is fine. Criterion is known for using soundtracks that are true to the theatrical experience and since the dialogue is clear and distortion-free, there is little to complain about. Two extras are of particular note. First is a lengthy documentary called "A Very British Psycho," but contrary to the title, this isn't a comparison to Hitchcock's film, but more of an in-depth look at the history of the film through a history of the screenwriter, Leo Marks. It's a fascinating document on the creation of the film and how it wasn't very well received by the critics of the time. Second, the disc has a detailed and very scholarly audio commentary from film theorist Laura Mulvey who discusses, in great detail, the different elements of making this film. It is both a highly technical commentary track, and an informative history lesson on the making of the film, while also delving deep into the theoretical side of this film. Also on the disc is a photo gallery of rare, behind-the-scenes photos with brief explanations. Add in the original theatrical trailer, and this is a fine special edition. This disc gets top honors, both as a movie and for its presentation. It continues a fine tradition from Criterion.Michael Powell's controversial meditation on violence and voyeurism effectively destroyed his career when it was first released, but later generations have come to regard it as a masterpiece. Karl Heinz Boehm stars as Mark, the son of a psychologist who kept a video journal of the boy's upbringing for research purposes. The constant intrusions profoundly affected the boy, who grew up to be a photographer himself; but his principal subject matter consists of women whom he murders before the camera. He then runs the films of his victims in their final throes so that he can study their reactions to death--a perverse extension of his father's experiments, which tormented Mark to analyze his reactions to raw fear. The British press had long been hostile to the unorthodox films of Powell and his partner Emeric Pressburger; when Peeping Tom came around, they used the film to castigate him as "sick" and tawdry. The passage of time has proven Peeping Tom as profound and accomplished as any of Powell's earlier films, and it ranks with Alfred Hitchcock's Rear Window (1954) and Vertigo (1958) as a landmark exploration of the links among voyeurism, violence, and male sexual desire. Powell himself plays the evil father in the flashback sequences, and his son Colomba plays Mark as a child.

Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Mark Deming
It takes a pretty special film to destroy the career of one of Britain's greatest directors practically overnight, and Peeping Tom is just that sort of film. While its content isn't terribly shocking by today's standards (at least compared to the floodgates of gore opened by Blood Feast a few years later), psychologically Peeping Tom has lost little (if any) of its original, disturbing impact. Director Michael Powell, with tongue slightly in cheek, once described Peeping Tom as a film about a film fan, and behind Powell's jest lies the key to the film's impact. Mark Lewis (Karl-Heinz Boehm) is a murderous voyeur who obsessively films the deaths of young women (whom he stabs with the sharpened leg of a tripod); in the first few minutes, as we watch one woman's agonies through the viewfinder of Mark's camera, Powell forces us to watch Mark's crimes through his own eyes. And later, as Karl views the deadly images projected onto a screen in rapt silence, we see an unpleasant reflection of ourselves; if the appeal of the cinema is to a large degree voyeuristic, as the camera allows us to silently observe the lives of the figures on screen, then Mark Lewis is the ultimate extension of the ugly side of the filmgoing experience, taking erotic pleasure in the pain and fear of the people he films, and Powell is all too willing to indicate the audience's complicity as they follow Mark's actions. And while the standards of its day imposed certain limits on Powell, Peeping Tom doesn't shy away from a clear focus on the fetishistic voyeurism inherent in the story: Mark supplements his career as a focus puller by doing cheesecake photography (at a time when the legality of girlie magazines was still questionable in England); one bit of comic relief is pegged on a timid man's buying under-the-counter pornography from a tobacconist; and the U.K.'s most famous nude model of the day, Pamela Green, appears in a small role (the relative equivalent of, say, giving Linda Lovelace a supporting role in Frenzy). While Powell carefully documents the emotional conditions that made Mark what he is, he also clearly intimates that his twisted psyche merely amplifies (and distorts) the voyeuristic impulse that lurks in us all, making Mark Lewis unexpectedly sympathetic and the audience an unwitting accomplice in his crimes. While often compared to Psycho, another ground-breaking terror film of the same year, Peeping Tom is a more daring and audacious film than Alfred Hitchcock's masterful whodunit, and it has more in common with Hitchcock's Rear Window. An unusually frank and non-judgmental portrayal of deviant psychology and sexuality (Mark's actions are not condoned, but he's more a tragic victim than a villain), the film asks questions and raises issues guaranteed to make nearly any audience uncomfortable.

Product Details

Release Date:
Original Release:
Region Code:
[Wide Screen]

Special Features

New widescreen digital transfer, created from restored film elements and enhanced for widescreen televisions; Audio essay by renowned film theorist Laura Mulvey; Stills gallery of rare behind-the-scenes production photos; "A Very British Psycho," directed by Chris Rodley, about the life of screenwriter Leo Marks; Original theatrical trailer; English subtitles; Optimal image quality: RSDL dual-layer edition

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Karl Heinz Böhm Mark Lewis
Moira Shearer Vivian
Anna Massey Helen Stephens
Maxine Audley Mrs. Stephens
Shirley Ann Field Diane Ashley
Esmond Knight Arthur Baden
Jack Watson Inspector Gregg
Bartlett Mullins Mr. Peters
Michael Goodliffe Don Jarvis
Brenda Bruce Dora
Martin Miller Dr. Rosan
Pamela Green Millie
Nigel Davenport Sgt. Miller
Susan Travers Lorraine
Brian Worth Assistant Director
Veronica Hurst Miss Simpson
Miles Malleson Elderly Gentleman
John Dunbar Police Doctor
Guy Kingsley Poynter P. Tate the Cameraman
Keith Baxter Baxter
Peggy Thorp-Bates Mrs Partridge
John Barrard Small Man
Roland Curram Young Man Extra
John Chappell Clapper Boy
Michael Powell Mark's Father

Technical Credits
Michael Powell Director,Producer
Noreen Ackland Editor
Ivor Beddoes Set Decoration/Design
Malcolm Cooke Sound/Sound Designer
Brian Easdale Score Composer,Musical Direction/Supervision
Albert Fennell Associate Producer
Otto Heller Cinematographer
Arthur Lawrence Art Director
Arthur Lawson Art Director
Al Marcus Production Manager
Leo Marks Screenwriter
Gordon K. McCallum Sound/Sound Designer
C.C. Stevens Sound/Sound Designer
Wally Stott Choreography
Ted Sturgis Asst. Director
Gerry Turpin Camera Operator

Scene Index

Side #1 --
   Play The Movie
      play commentary
      commentary index
         Bull's eye to blue eye
         The name on the projector
         England's tabloid history
         A vaudeville act
         Sadism of "the gaze"
         Anna Massey, daughter of Raymond
         Links to lang
         The most beautiful scene
         J. Arthur Rank's successor
         Moira Shearer
         Shearer's robotic dance
         The phallic, the female
         Ways of seeing
         The Struggle over Mark
         A real black comedy
         Upside-down thriller
         Lumiére vs. Méliés
         Set design
         Out of the past
         A montage of Mark's worlds
         André Bazin: cinema and death
         Critical reactions
         The visible and the invisible
         The narrative retraces its steps
         The lodger and the psycho
         "Secret behind the secret"
         The Stillness of film and life
   A Very British Psycho
      play documentary
      documentary index
         Fade in
         Leo Marks and Micheale Powell
         The critics
         84 Charing Cross Road
         Sexual tensions
         Codes and ciphers
         Agents and operatives
   Stills Gallery
   Theatrical Trailer
   Color Bars


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Peeping Tom 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This DVD has a wonderful documentary about the writer of the film. And while the documentary inadvertantly gives away the ending of the film, I would strongly recommend viewing the documentary first. It will give you the context (and brace you!) for a truly disturbing film.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago