The Slender Thread

Overview

Sidney Pollack marked his feature film directing debut with this taut suspense drama, based upon an actual incident reported in Time Magazine. Sidney Poitier stars as Alan Nuell, a student volunteer at a medical clinic in Seattle who answers the phone to find Inge Dyson Anne Bancroft on the other end. Inge, depressed about her life, has just taken an overdose of sleeping pills. With Inge slowly dying, Alan tries to keep her talking on the phone while the police try to trace the call and save her life. Inge tells ...
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Overview

Sidney Pollack marked his feature film directing debut with this taut suspense drama, based upon an actual incident reported in Time Magazine. Sidney Poitier stars as Alan Nuell, a student volunteer at a medical clinic in Seattle who answers the phone to find Inge Dyson Anne Bancroft on the other end. Inge, depressed about her life, has just taken an overdose of sleeping pills. With Inge slowly dying, Alan tries to keep her talking on the phone while the police try to trace the call and save her life. Inge tells Alan that she has decided to end it all because her husband has discovered that he is not the father of her son.
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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Nathan Southern
Sydney Pollack took his first of many bows behind the camera with this diverting yet somewhat thin thriller, released in late 1965. As Alan Newell, a psych student turned crisis line worker who must locate and rescue suicidal housewife Inga Dyson (Anne Bancroft) before her overdose kicks in, lead Sydney Poitier practically delivers a one-man show. Poitier must act and react entirely in response to the strained and disembodied voice looming on the other end of the telephone, while Bancroft is relegated to voiceovers in most of her present-day scenes. It must have looked fairly dispiriting on paper that the two Oscar winners (Poitier for Lilies of the Field, and Bancroft for The Miracle Worker) have no face-to-face exchanges, when it would be a real pleasure to observe these two legends playing off of one another in the same room. Mercifully, both leads bound over these structural handicaps and deliver full-blooded, lived-in performances - no surprise in hindsight given Pollack's chief strength as an actor's director. The fortitude of the dramatic work is what effectively pumps some life into this material, making it feel more complex and multidimensional than it would have in less adroit hands. As a result, The Slender Thread is watchable, in a late night, B-movie kind of way - not unlike the prior year's housewife-in-distress soaper Lady in a Cage .(This has a comparable aesthetic given its similar use of moody, high-contrast black and white cinematography). But as a study in suicide or suicidal impulses - ostensibly its real subject - Thread founders. It pales in comparison to Louis Malle's 1963 drama of self-destruction The Fire Within, lacking both that picture's periodic notes of graceful lyricism, its psycho-emotional subtleties and its willingness to go for the throat with a downbeat resolution. Still, fans of Poitier, Bancroft and/or Pollack will find much to appreciate in Thread, despite its various weaknesses. As a footnote: film buffs should watch carefully for a young Dabney Coleman (sans mustache) who turns up as one of the Dysons' friends at a nightclub; Pollack and Coleman reteamed for The Scalphunters in 1968 and Tootsie in 1982.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 10/16/2012
  • UPC: 887090042802
  • Original Release: 1965
  • Rating:

  • Source: Olive Films
  • Region Code: 1
  • Presentation: Black & White / Wide Screen
  • Time: 1:38:00
  • Format: Blu-ray
  • Sales rank: 72,037

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Sidney Poitier Alan Newell
Anne Bancroft Inga Dyson
Telly Savalas Dr. Coburn
Steven Hill Mark Dyson
Ed Asner Det. Judd Ridley
Indus Arthur Marion
Dabney Coleman Charlie
Robert Hoy Patrolman Steve Peters
Greg Jarvis Chris Dyson
Jason Wingreen Medical Technician
Steven Marlo Arthur Foss
Thomas Hill Liquor Salesman
Lane Bradford Al McCardle
Janet Dudley Edna
John Napier Dr. Alden Van
John Benson Patrolman Bert Enyard
Paul Newlan Sgt. Harry Ward
H.M. Wynant Doctor
Kay Doubleday Jinny
Jo Helton Registration Nurse
Charlotte Stewart Telephone Operator
Viola Harris Telephone Supervisor
George Savalas Pool Player
Allen Emerson 2nd TV Newsman
David Harris Nightwatchman
Archie Smith
Technical Credits
Sydney Pollack Director
Stephen Alexander Producer
Robert R. Benton Set Decoration/Design
Loyal Griggs Cinematographer
Edith Head Costumes/Costume Designer
Quincy Jones Score Composer
Joseph Kish Set Decoration/Design
Hal Pereira Art Director
John S. Poplin Art Director
Jack Poplin Production Designer
Stirling Silliphant Screenwriter
Thomas G. Stanford Editor
Wally Westmore Makeup
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