I’ve owned this (and many other Criterion films) for years and have never gotten around to watching it before. Such is the power of a pandemic. I regret waiting so long — this is a terrific film that feels fifteen years ahead of its time.

In many ways, reminiscent of Citizen Kane: this is a 70s-era film about the wanton desire and abuse of power, but made in an era that simply wasn’t prepared for it. 1956 was all about Bridge on the River Kwai — a film that celebrates heroic valour — and the studios hoped folks would go see Burt Lancaster — a recognizable on-screen hero — as a villain? Not a wonder this film escaped the limelight for so long.

A real treasure, though. Sharp dialogue, as everybody else has noted. I was particularly engrossed by the cinematography. By the end, exhausted by the film’s twists and turns.

The accompanying essays and short stories in the Criterion edition are lovely.

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