Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Tuesday's Overlooked Films: THE EYES OF ANNIE JONES (1964)

Reginald Le Borg's THE EYES OF ANNIE JONES is a strange little movie that never quite figures out what it wants to be. Part mystery, part horror film and part romantic drama, its many elements never mesh into a cohesive whole but it still manages to be a fairly interesting programmer despite itself.

The film revolves around Geraldine, a heiress to a paper fortune who has disappeared en route to Spain. The police suspect foul play since if anything happens to Geraldine her fortune is set to pass to her philandering, irresponsible brother, David (Richard Conte). David and his dotty Aunt Helen (Joyce Carey) enlist the help of Annie Jones (an impossibly young looking Francesca Annis), a troubled youth from the local orphanage who Helen believes has psychic abilities, to help in the search. Along with David's wife Carol (Myrtle Reed) the group heads off to Geraldine's house so Annie can "absorb her aura" find some answers. The only problem is that Annie is only too happy to have a break from the orphanage and is in no hurry to find the missing heiress. She also has set her sights on forty-something year old David, something he seems quite pleased with.

The biggest problem with the film is that is doesn't follow through on any of its plot elements. I won't give it away, but Geraldine's fate is revealed very early in the film, eliminating the mystery and leaving the characters to spin their wheels as the discover things that the audience already knows. The film tries to generate suspense by introducing the possibility that Annie psychic powers aren't real, but we see her demonstrate them early in the film so it's clear that she has at least some abilities. Plus, her abilities have very little, if anything, to do with the ultimate resolution of the mystery. That leaves the domestic drama, which is the least interesting plot element, yet ironically is the most successful. A lot of the movie's 73 minutes are devoted to showing Annie as a neglected girl jealous of the finer things in life and David as a sleazy playboy who doesn't have any problem cheating on his wife while she's still in the room. It's fun to watch them interact.

The film's a mess but there's something about it that still makes it watchable. Part of it is a game cast having fun with the ridiculous material. Another is trying to guess where the film is ultimately heading. It's like the filmmakers took every conceivable plot element they could think of, threw it into a stew and hoped for the best. The results may not be exactly good, but they're still pretty entertaining.

For more overlooked films and a/v go to Todd Mason's blog


  1. Wow. THE EYES OF LAURA MARS was no less a pudding of this sort of thing fifteen years later. You'd think such a cinematic idea wouldn't be that difficult to do well...at least there's DEATHWATCH, the (not exactly similar) film version of D. F. Jones's THE CONTINUOUS KATHERINE MORTENHOE, and all its imitators...