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Wednesday, February 1, 2012

THE OTHER (1972)

It’s as if the director of TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD/’62 filmed a script by M. Night Shyamalan, but it was the former actor Tom Tryon, adapting his own Penny-Dreadful novel & exec-producing, who came up with the Scary Tale & (probably) the idea of hiring Robert Mulligan to helm. Together they made the American Gothic/Bad Seed material lyrical & disturbing, a child’s garden of mortality. As the twin boys whose games disrupt life on a Depression-Era farm, Chris & Martin Udvarnoky, in their sole film credit, are a memorable double act of Good & Evil. And they’re surrounded by a host of loamy performances; look for John Ritter in a nice early credit. But it’s the great Uta Hagen, a theatrical legend in her belated screen debut as the twins sympathetic (and guilt-ridden) Grandmother, who makes you believe it. The tech credits belie the pic’s modest budget with lenser Robert Surtees turning the rural landscape into a leading (and willful) character, alternately welcoming & deadly; abetted by music man Jerry Goldsmith who’d soon consolidate his horror bona fides with THE OMEN/’76.

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