One of the most daring films of the 1960s—if not the most—director Michael Powell’s Peeping Tom was so reviled when it came out in the UK in 1960 that it effectively ended his association with the British film industry, after decades of being one of the nation’s most internationally respected directors. Carl Boehm stars as a psychologically troubled young cameraman who’s been replicating his renowned father’s own experiments with documenting the fear response, by murdering women while filming them. On a literal level, Peeping Tom is a grim horror film, getting inside the twisted mind of a socially awkward serial killer. But Peeping Tom also functions as metaphor, exploring the voyeuristic qualities of cinema, where characters are tormented by directors and observed by audiences. That layer of symbolism eluded a lot of critics back in 1960, who couldn’t get past the film’s sick, violent premise. But filmmakers like Martin Scorsese, George Romero, and especially Brian De Palma caught on to what Powell was doing, and internalized it as they began making movies in the ensuing decade. Peeping Tom airs on Turner Classic Movies on Saturday afternoon, at 3 p.m. Eastern.
October 03, 2014 newsreel