Plot: What’s it about?
Freddie Clegg (Terence Stamp) works as a bank clerk and lives a modest lifestyle, including an almost complete lack of social interaction. He has no real skills in terms of people, so he has no friends and even upsets most folks, from customers to coworkers to strangers. So he is very withdrawn and simply goes through the motions of life, which lands him a depressing home life and a dismal work performance. His sole pleasure comes from his hobby, as collecting butterflies allows him to maintain a sense of control in his life, even if that control is only over his specimens. When he happens into a large amount of wealth, he thinks things might turn around for him, but even then, he is unable to succeed in the social realm. So he purchases a country house for himself, then begins to plan on how to acquire a girlfriend, using the same methods he follows to obtain his butterflies. As he prepares the basement to hold his newest addition, art student Miranda (Samantha Eggar) has no idea she’s being stalked by an off balance collector…
I’ve seen so many thrillers in my life, I can’t even begin to count them, but I can tell you the number of good ones isn’t that high. The genre is ripe with plot holes, massive stretches, and cheap plot twists, all of which can lessen tension, shatter atmosphere, and take the audience out of the movie, which is bad news. But in The Collector, we’re shown that suspense can be done to near perfection without having to use those faults as a crutch, as the movie simply needs good writing, tight direction, and a gifted cast. This film uses only two characters as the main focus, but Terence Stamp and Samantha Eggar are more than up to the task, and thanks to the writing, we’re never bored with the couple. In fact, Stamp’s character is one of the more interesting thriller villains, as he predates most of the genre’s staples, though he has a nice mix of the traits of what works in this most vital portion of the movie. Columbia’s disc is bare bones, but the movie is so cool, I can’t help but give it a strong recommendation.
Although he had been in two movies before this one, Terence Stamp wasn’t a star when he signed on here, nor was he one afterwards. No, his big break into international stardom was still a ways off, but he turns in a terrific performance in The Collector. As we all know, Stamp is a superb actor and can make almost any movie better with his presence, but in many cases, he is moved into smaller, supporting roles. But in this one, he is given the reins to be the main dude and he delivers, giving an eerie, totally effective performance. In a movie like this, you need to have the sinister character be highly effective and Stamp is, but he remains serious in approach, so we never think of him as over the top, even for a second. This might not be his finest effort, but it is another solid notch on his resume. Other films with Stamp include The Limey, Superman II, Spirits of the Dead, Billy Budd, and Red Planet.
Video: How does it look?
The Collector is presented in a 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer. I didn’t expect too much here, as this is a non blockbuster movie made almost four decades in the past, but Columbia has issued a nice presentation here. The print has some nicks, grain, and assorted debris, but nothing too serious, especially when you consider the age of the material involved. The grain is more of an issue than the other elements and I do think it can be a tad distracting, but not enough to lessen the experience. The film’s color scheme is well presented, which means hues aren’t that vivid, but more of a natural scope instead. I have no complaints about the contrast either, as black levels are solid throughout. I know this treatment has some flaws, but you think about the material involved, I think Columbia has done some good work here.
Audio: How does it sound?
As expected, the included soundtrack is by no means a dynamic one, but it handles the material and that’s what counts. The sound effects are as well presented as you can want, given the age & nature of the movie itself, while the music comes off as solid also, though limited to a rather flat range of sound. These flaws are to be expected however, as this is a forty year old movie with a dialogue driven soundtrack. The dialogue is smooth, with only a few trouble spots to mention, which is good news indeed. This disc also includes subtitles in English, French, and Spanish, should you need those.
Supplements: What are the extras?
This disc includes the film’s theatrical trailer.