The Slender Thread (1965)
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Sydney Pollack started an illustrious directorial career with The Slender Thread, a tense suicide hotline drama starring Sidney Poitier and Anne Bancroft that plays at once like a self-murder mystery as Poitier's Alan pumps Bancroft's Inga for information, and a ticking-clock thriller where the police must find her before she succumbs to an overdose. Pollack's skill is already evident here, taking what is essentially a radio play, and drawing us into his world with various intriguing twists, like his camera flying around the city and landing on various characters connected in ways we don't yet understand, or giving us shots that express Inga's point of view (like the giddy go-go club sequence). Above all, it's a character study in which the main intrigue is whether or not someone can forgive themselves, especially absent others' forgiveness. While I don't begrudge Bancroft her flashback scenes - they're strong in isolation - I kind of resent the film's shifting perspective and wish it had been a very intimate, bare-bones, conversation between Alan and Inga, in which we never see her at all. Maybe it's my radio roots talking...
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