So much has been written about "Peeping Tom", a 1960 suspense film which essentially cost the director, Michael Powell, his career. The film was damned upon its initial release but has gradually become renowned for its acting and its psychological acumen.
Set in London, the film tells the story of a highly disturbed young man, Mark Lewis, (Carl Boehm) who kills young women as he films them to capture the fear in their eyes. Mark, a loner who works as a cameraman and photographer, lives in a shabby London apartment and gradually begins a possible romantic relationship with a 21 year old woman and budding children's book author, Helen Stephens (Anna Massey). Helen slowly becomes aware of Mark's secret life. Through watching films, Helen learns of Mark's abusive childhood, where his father instilled fear and repressed sexuality in the young boy through use of photography and the camera. The viewer gets to share vicariously in Helen's growing understanding of Mark.
The opening scenes are the most effective in the film. Mark hires a streetwalker and brutally kills her in her room, capturing the scene on his camera. He returns the following day to photograph the police as they remove the body. Mark then reports to a small store where he works part time. An old lecher buys pornographic pictures, which Mark takes in the rooms upstairs. Mark commits two other murders of young women during the film and nearly commits others.
The film follows Mark over the course of several days as the nature of his illness becomes clear. The viewer is gradually drawn in to the film, initially as a voyeur watching Mark with the prostitute. The young man is a monster but also evokes sympathy.
The film is in garish but effective color. The scenes of London street life add a great deal to the movie. The violence and nudity in the 1960 film was toned down slightly for its 1962 release in the United States.
The movie was riveting. I was glad to have the opportunity to see it.