Pressure Point

On the basis of his expert low-budget thrillers, Plunder Road (1958) and The Third Voice (1959), and his contribution to Angel Baby (taken over by Paul Wendkos), producer/director Stanley Kramer invited Hubert Cornfield to direct one of his more provocative projects - a dramatization of a psychiatric case study (from Dr. Robert Kindner's book, “The 50-Minute Hour”) involving the explosive patient-doctor relationship between an American-German Bundist imprisoned for sedition and his Negro psychiatrist. Around the same time, Kramer also gave John Cassavetes a chance to move up from Shadows and Too Late Blues, with the Kramer project A Child Is Waiting. Both Cassavetes and Cornfield complained of “creative differences” with producer Kramer: both were unhappy with the final cuts. But Pressure Point remains a remarkable work, too disturbing to make any inroads at the box-office in 1962; and since then it has been unjustly forgotten. Bobby Darin (yes, Bobby Darin) gives an extraordinary performance as the American Nazi; Sidney Poitier gives a careful and intense performance as the psychiatrist; and Cornfield's direction is marked by interesting camera angles and visual effects borrowed from the then-current vogues of the Nouvelle Vague.

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