22 MAY 1964, Page 17

Lyric Love

Especially hard to convey with the right artistic detachment is the 'heartfelt' love affair, the one in which artist and audience are closely in- volved (though who with whom, and how, is often not•clear to anyone), with pity and pathos and all sorts of personal reactions coming into it. The classic 'involved' love story in the cinema still seems to me, after years, to be Ophuls's Letter from an Unknown Wontatt: subjective- ness could hardly .go further, nothing is seen as relative or external, the 'absolute' eye (that artistic booby-trap) is never betrayed, but the artistic grip never slackens. Girl with Green Eyes is an example of the same sort of story, 'involved' in the sense that what happens is all seen from the girl's point of view; so its weakness is a psychological one. It's no fault of Peter Finch's, but how are we to take his portrait of a middle- aged man adored by a sly-sweet girl to whom he responds with touched fondness, no more?

Kate, not long out of a convent school, shares a room in Dublin with her friend, Baba, works in a grocer's shop, meets and pursues her im- possibly remote writer, has a brief affair with him (her first), and is quickly defeated by their differences, her consequent tiresomeness, and his consequent cooling-off. A sad little, cred- ible tale made funny and true by Edna O'Brien's . script, whin has all the nimble exactness of the original novel it comes from, by Rita Tushingham in (at last) a sympathetic part that suits her, and by the sort of tough excellence among the minor parts you need to bolster a rather fragile plot. I'm not sure that Lynn Redgrave, a reincarnation of Angela Lansbury at her adolescent funniest, doesn't steal about

two-thirds of the film, as Baba. Desmond Davis's direction is full of good moments—neat obser- vations of mood and place and clothes, and it steers on the thin edge of what I think is called visual lyricism without ever quite slipping ,ill. Emlyn Williams's Night Must Fall has been turned from a thriller about heads in hatboxes. to a close-up study of a psychopath. Karel Reisz's direction, though it has moments of ghoulish truth, is so ponderous and painstaking that suspense and even psychological excite- ment haven't a chance. A young man who likes decapitation has a way with women, appealing to what each one most wants. This may seem an obvious way of appealing but in his case it's carried rather far. To the three women in the household where he lands (while the police are searching round the house for the head he keeps on top of the wardrobe), he's three distinct characters, and when anyone stops him play- acting another head has to fall. Alas, he's Albert Finney, excruciatingly miscast and misfiring and physically incapable of suggesting the emotional waif who'd arouse (in the case of one of the women) motherly instincts and tender playful- ness. But the women are good : Mona Wash- bourne as his middle-aged employer, so wildly unaware of what she's up to, Sheila Hancock as the maid he's made pregnant. There are a few moments when the. heart does suddenly pitch over, as it should, and there's a kind of hefty distinction to some of the descriptive scenes; but mostly it's a terrible.brave flop.