- on Saturday, 30 July 2016 22:10
- by Loron Hays
It is no secret that Anthony Perkins used to be a very hot item in the acting realm. For nearly a decade, he was the talent the major studios wanted attached to their movies. Most of this was before Hitchcock’s Psycho; before the role of Norman Bates so perfectly melded with his image; before the typecasting that followed. Perkins, from 1955 to about 1965, had a very successful run of films that helped him escape his rough upbringing. Five Miles to Midnight, his second film with Sophia Loren, is the best example of the quality of films he was involved with during the highest point of his rising star.
Directed by Anatole Litvak, Five Miles to Midnight is a story of opposite personalities whose repelling drive actually keeps them bouncing back toward each other. The movie is not a romance, mind you. While Loren and Perkins play lovers at the end of their relationship, this is not a story about how they come back together. It is, in fact, a narrative about trying to get free. As a result, Five Miles to Midnight is an effective edge-of-your-seat thriller that keeps the audience in its spell long after its closing credits. It is also better received now then it was when it was first released.
Shot in Neuilly and other parts of France by French cinematographer Henri Alekan (Wings of Desire), this black-and-white film is brimming with atmosphere and visual panache. It is also a slow burn of a story focusing on an insurance scam as an immature and abusive young man (Perkins) who drags his Italian wife (Loren) into the scam after he is pronounced dead in an airplane crash. The kicker? She’s fallen out of love with him and wants to call it off. And every bad decision made brings her fate tied closer and closer to his.
This haunting film deserves to be rediscovered. If not for the narrative it tells, written by Peter Viertel and Hugh Wheeler, then for the smoldering acting by Loren and Perkins and Gig Young. And, if not for that, then for the swinging score by Mikis Theodorakis (Zorba the Greek’s composer) and the visual style of its cinematography as it perfectly captures the feel and flow of Paris during the 1960s.
Perkins, who plays the spoiled rich kid perfectly, is unhinged and abusive to Loren’s character in a real way that few can pull off; his surprising turns are shockingly violent and unsettling. Her decisions along the way – however ill advised – fall in line with the victim’s card that is so often played. And then, when it really matters, she simply snaps and takes things into her own hands. It is a beautiful scene of haunting beaut. Again and again and again and again, she finally stands up for herself in a rampaging scene full of roadside rage.
Five Miles to Midnight is more than just a curiosity due to its casting. It is a film, while uneven, that is waiting for an audience to appreciate its beauty. It is now available on blu-ray in a remastered HD print from Kino Lorber.
MPAA Rating: Not rated.
Runtime: 110 mins
Director: Anatole Litvak
Writer: Peter Viertel
Cast: Sophia Loren, Anthony Perkins, Gig Young
Genre: Drama | Crime
Tagline: A motion picture that touches the trigger of violence in all of us!
Memorable Movie Quote: "I've given up eating. It's soooo old fashioned."
Distributor: United Artists
Release Date: March 20, 1963
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date: July 26, 2016
Synopsis: Lisa Macklin, an Italian woman, has a fight with her American husband Robert in a Paris night club. He leaves the next day for a business trip and Lisa says she does not want to see him again. She is with newspaperman Alan Stewart that evening when she learns Robert's plane has crashed with no survivors. Waking from sedation after the funeral, Lisa finds Robert in their flat, injured but alive.
Available on Blu-ray - February 11, 2014
Screen Formats: 1.66:1
Audio: English: DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0
Discs: Blu-ray Disc; Single disc (1 BD-25)
Region Encoding: A
Kino Lorber presents Five Miles to Midnight with a newly remastered print in 1080p. With bold black levels and clear white levels, it is a perfectly balanced picture showcasing Paris, from street to clubs to apartments. There are a couple of focus issues due to the clarity of the print but it should not bother most. There are also some visible scratches, too, but the film looks better than previous releases. The film feels fresh – especially 1.67:1 aspect ratio – and offers a depth in some of the club and dancing scenes that previously felt claustrophobic. The soundtrack – an engaging DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 track – is free of hiss and other noise but is not as engaging as one could hope for.
There are only a couple of features and they aren’t that interesting.
- Alternate French Scene (8 min)
- Theatrical Trailer