Saturday, March 21, 2009

No Place to Hide (1981) TV Movie

Published: March 4, 1981

"NO PLACE TO HIDE," CBS-TV's movie tonight at 9 o'clock, is billed as a psychological-suspense thriller. It is the kind of project that the old Alfred Hitchcock series did very nicely in the space of an hour or less. Stretched to two hours, this story suffers from the familiar television affliction of conspicuous bloat.

The plot demands heroic suspensions of disbelief. Young and pretty Amy Manning (Kathleen Beller) is being followed and threatened by a man wearing a ski mask. The problem is that nobody believes her. After several alarms, the police have failed to find a suspect or even any credible witnesses to his existence.

Amy's beautiful mother, Adele (Mariette Hartley), is supportive but urges the girl to get psychiatric help, preferably from the handsome Dr. Letterman (Keir Dullea). Along the way, Amy is befriended by a struggling and attractive law student named David (Gary Graham). Up to this point, the only common denominator among the characters is their good looks.

Things then begin to get complicated. It turns out that Adele is not Amy's real mother. Furthermore, Amy's father drowned in a boat accident a year earlier. Her anxieties are attributed to his sudden death. On top of everything else, Amy will inherit a considerable estate when she reaches the age of 21 in three months. The lawyer (Arlen Dean Snyder) is an old friend of the family.

Despite her frequent cries for help, Amy is left to wander about by herself with unbelievable ease. This allows her to be stalked in dark corridors with almost monotonous regularity. One long scene in a deserted school building -Amy is a budding artist - is handled especially well by John Llewellyn Moxey, the director. Ominous shadows combined with the sounds of running and heavy breathing are used for a nice bit of scare business.

But too much of "No Place to Hide" is obvious padding. There are too many telephone calls, complete with what seems to be interminable dialing. And then there are the inevitable surprise twists, designed to be clever but finally producing exasperation. Amy's tormenter is revealed about two-thirds of the way through, and then it's the turn of the stalker to be stalked. For a thoroughly unnecessary fillip, the movie ends with a cheap trick.

Jimmy Sangster's script is based on a Harriet Steinberg story, described in the credits as "unpublished." Publishers, too, occasionally have their reasons.

No Place to Hide (1981) TV Movie
Cast: Gary Graham, Kathleen Beller, Keir Dullea, Marc Handler, Mariette Hartley

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