SEANCE ON A WET AFTERNOON
Séance on a Wet Afternoon is a kidnap thriller. It belongs to a particular genre of 1960s British thrillers that were shot in black and white with a kitchen sink realism. Indeed, producer/star Richard Attenborough appeared in several other of these films, most notably the excellent serial killer film 10 Rillington Place (1971). This realist approach makes for a particularly gripping and suspenseful drama the kidnap being contrasted with moments of banal reality like the couple sitting proofreading the ransom note or the irritated passer-by tapping on the phone box just as Attenborough delivers his ransom demands. Director Bryan Forbes constantly throws in nerve-wrackingly unexpected twists and turns the appearance of boys throwing a ball as Attenborough struggles to get Judith Donner out of the Rolls; the bobby who comes knocking at the door (represented only by a shadow passing a window) as Attenborough and Kim Stanley hide in the house, they becoming endangered as Judith Donner calls out upstairs; and, in particular, the séance where desperate mother Nanette Newman turns up as Richard Attenborough keeps the daughter hidden in the very next room.
Kim Stanley received Academy Award, National Board of Review and British Academy Award nominations for her performance and is excellent. The moment where she turns to Attenborough and says Shes seen your face. Do it. Do it for me. Do it and we can be safe, is chilling. An even better performance comes from Richard Attenborough, who is excellent as the mild-mannered hen-pecked man in over his head in simply trying to please his wife and do the right thing.
Séance on a Wet Afternoon was remade as Seance (2000) by Japanese director Kiyoshi Kurosawa who interestingly chose to play the wife mediums powers as real and turn it into a horror film.
Director Bryan Forbes has made a number of genre-related films, including Whistle Down the Wind (1961) about children who believe a man hiding in a barn might be Jesus Christ; the android housewife film The Stepford Wives (1975); and the Cinderella adaptation The Slipper and the Rose (1976).
Full film available online here:-