Someone Behind the Door (1971)
In the late sixties and early seventies action superstar Charles Bronson found himself like many contemporaries in Europe making films, no doubt due to the success Clint Eastwood had in the Leone films.While overseas Bronson made 2 films that were surprisingly in the Hitchcock mold. This so-so effort from director Nicolas Gessner teamed him with Anthony Perkins. The other being an earlier little gem called Rider On the Rain.
For this odd movie in the Bronson library he is cast as a stranger wandering the beach with amnesia. Delivered into the hands of noted doctor Perkins the plot begins to take shape. Perkins has pieced together who or rather what Bronson is and decides to use him as a pawn in a scheme to rid himself of his unfaithful wife and her lover. What better way than to convince a murderous amnesiac that your wife is actually his. So goes the plot in this stage bound effort that was scripted by Jacques Robert who also wrote the source novel the film is based on.
As is customary with Perkins he is rather quirky and suspicious from the outset as he goes about setting up Bronson as an instrument of jealous revenge. No surprise that Perkins wife is portrayed by Jill Ireland who was of course Mrs. Charles Bronson. This was the 5th of their 15 appearances together before her untimely death due to cancer. As a Bronson fan it’s hard to criticize here (fan’s are always forgiving) but I must admit he’s better when he does less. Some of his dialogue doesn’t fit the macho tough guy although this time out his character is supposed to be confused and searching for his identity. It’s just that some of the scenes with Perkins come off as kind of overdone and occasionally goofy. Bronson was still 3 years away from his iconic hit Death Wish whereas Perkins was 11 years past his and another 12 to reviving it and to a certain degree his career in Psycho II.
By no means a classic, the general idea here is pretty good and in better hands this could have worked a lot better. Bronson and Perkins are an odd couple for sure but then I have generally found Perkins opposite anyone to be a bit odd post 1970. The film has been in public domain and a regular title in bargain bins on cheap labels so it was nice to pick up a widescreen release from Lionsgate on DVD recently with a cool box cover.