Friday, November 07, 2014

The Blunderer by Patricia Highsmith

(hb; 1954)

From the back cover:

"For two years, Walter Stackhouse has been a faithful and supportive husband to his wife, Clara. She is distant and neurotic, and Walter finds himself harboring gruesome fantasies about her demise. When Clara's dead body turns up at the bottom of a cliff in a manner uncannily resembling the recent death of a woman named Helen Kimmel who was murdered by her husband, Walter finds himself under intense scrutiny. He commits several blunders that claim his career and his reputation, cost him his friends and eventually threaten his life. . ."


Blunderer is a good, intense thriller where Highsmith's trademark panicky murder suspect (a spineless Walter Stackhouse) encounters a self-assured killer (Melchior Kimmel), as well as a blunt, relentless cop (Detective Corby) who is bent on breaking both of them even - especially - if it kills them. Worth owning, this.


One film has resulted from this novel; another is forthcoming.

The first cinematic version is titled Enough Rope. It was filmed in 1963 and released stateside on July 14, 1966. Claude Autant-Lara directed it, from a screenplay by Jean Aurenche and Pierre Bost.

Maurice Ronet played Walter Saccard (cinematic stand-in for Walter Stackhouse). Yvonne Furneaux played Clara Saccard (cinematic stand-in for Clara Stackhouse). Gert Fröbe played Melchior Kimmel. Marina Vlady played Ellie. Robert Hossein played Corbie. Harry Meyen played Tony.


The forthcoming second film, titled The Blunderer, is being directed by Andy Godard. Susan Boyd wrote the script.

These actors - whose roles are not listed on - appear in the film: Imogen Poots, Jessica Biel, Patrick Wilson, Toby Jones, Haley Bennett and Eddie Marsan.

Jennifer Enskat plays Mrs. Philpott.

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