Quarantine Film Diary – Day 5 – Straight On Till Morning

Stuck in the Czech Republic as a result of a travel ban announced after the global Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, I watch one random film a day until the travel ban is lifted to keep some of my sanity intact.

Straight on Till Morning is a British thriller mixing kitchen sink drama with the flair of Hammer movies, the company that produced it. It is directed by Peter Collinson, best known for helming 1969’s The Italian Job. While it isn’t dreadfully original, it is sufficiently grabbing though frustratingly open-ended.

The story is that of a timid woman named Brenda (Rita Tushingham), who leabes her mother to search for the love of her life. Soon after, she meets Peter (Shane Briant), who looks like a regular prince charming alá Disney movies. Little does she know that he is also a psychotic killer.

Though she moves into his house quite hastily upon his invitation, the film’s pace is far more ponderous, allowing it to come across as a cerebral giallo. This mood clashes with the stylish frenzy of the eccentric editing style that intercuts scenes at the start of the film, much like Easy Rider (1969) but without any apparent reason.

The rhythm also allows for some ambivalence about the characters, both of whom are presented as broken in their own way. Both are childlike, though at times Brenda doubles as a mother figure. It is no wonder that they should bond over telling each other children’s fables.

It is during his fable that Brian drops a heavy hint at his disdain for female beauty as the motivator for his violence. Thus, that his reason for legitimately caring for Brenda lies in her unattractiveness. But Tushingham is far to attractive to play this role no matter what the story tells us, and this being a central element of the story severely harms Straight On Till Morning‘s overall credibility.

STRAIGHT ON TILL MORNING | Director – Peter Collinson | Writer – John Peacock | Starring – Rita Tushingham, Shane Briant | UK | 1972

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