Bunny Lake Is Missing
|Bunny Lake Is Missing|
film poster by Saul Bass
|Directed by||Otto Preminger|
|Produced by||Otto Preminger|
|Written by||Marryam Modell (novel) (as Evelyn Piper)|
|Screenplay by||John Mortimer
|Based on||Bunny Lake Is Missing (novel)|
and Noël Coward
|Music by||Paul Glass|
|Cinematography||Denys N. Coop|
|Editing by||Peter Thornton|
|Distributed by||Columbia Pictures|
|Running time||107 minutes|
Bunny Lake Is Missing is a 1965 British psychological thriller film starring Laurence Olivier and directed and produced by Otto Preminger, who filmed it in black and white widescreen format in London. It was based on the novel of the same name by Merriam Modell. The score is by Paul Glass and the opening theme is often heard as a refrain. The Zombies also appear in a television broadcast.
Dismissed by both critics and Preminger as insignificant upon its release in 1965, the film later earned a following as a cult classic, along with strong reviews by critics such as Andrew Sarris. The movie was released on DVD in 2005 (Region 1) and 2007 (Region 2).
American single mother Ann Lake (Carol Lynley) has just come to England from the United States, apparently accompanied by her 4-year-old daughter Felicia, nicknamed Bunny, to settle in London with her journalist brother Stephen (Keir Dullea). After the first morning at Bunny's new school, "The Little People's Garden", Ann comes to fetch her, but Bunny is not there and nobody can remember even having seen her.
Police Superintendent Newhouse (Laurence Olivier) faces an array of suspects in Bunny's disappearance, including Ann's landlord, aging writer and broadcaster Horatio Wilson (Noël Coward), who lets himself into the Lakes' new apartment as he pleases and is a whip-loving sadomasochist. Retired teacher Ada Ford (Martita Hunt) lives on the school's top floor and collects recordings of children's nightmares. Ada tells Newhouse she thinks there is something "very unusual" about Ann's brother Stephen. Stephen acts aggressively towards Newhouse, threatening to create a public scandal through his resources as a reporter unless the police quickly find Bunny.
Ann and Stephen then tell the police that the girl's passport and all of her belongings have vanished that same day in a mysterious burglary. The school authorities in turn report that they had never received a tuition check for a Bunny Lake. When Stephen lets slip that as a young girl Ann had an imaginary friend she called Bunny, Newhouse begins to wonder whether Bunny Lake ever really existed.
At her wits' end from not being believed, Ann suddenly recalls that before Bunny's disappearance, the girl's doll had been taken in for repair. She sets off across nighttime London to try to get it back, reasoning that the police will believe her story if she can show them the doll.
In the film's surprise denouement, Stephen has followed Ann to the "doll hospital". Seeming less-than-pleased that she has found the doll, he sets it afire while she's upstairs paying the repairman; in the light from the flames, his face takes on a mad look. Ann is shocked when she comes down and sees what he has done, but he immediately strikes her, knocking her out. He checks her into a hospital, claiming she hit her head at home, but she manages to escape. She finds him retrieving a drugged Bunny from the boot of his car, where he has evidently kept her all day. He clearly intends to murder the child.
When Newhouse continues to investigate and finds no record of Bunny on the passenger list on the day Stephen said they arrived, he suddenly remembers that Ann had mentioned another date and Stephen had corrected her. He asks for records for the date Ann gave.
Meanwhile, realizing that Stephen is insane, Ann tries to distract and reassure her brother, calling him "Stevie" and playing ever more frantic games from their childhood. Their dialogue hints at the film's earlier suggestions of incestuous feelings between them. Steven deeply resented Bunny's father, Ann's former boyfriend ("just a boy I knew from school who took me to dances," she had told authorities), and Bunny's existence reminds him of having "lost" his sister in this way. In a last-ditch effort to keep him away from Bunny, Ann makes Stephen push her higher and higher on a swing, and finally Newhouse and other policemen arrive and take Stephen into custody. He watches as Ann carries Bunny safely away.
|Laurence Olivier||Supt. Newhouse|
|Carol Lynley||Ann Lake|
|Keir Dullea||Stephen Lake|
|Martita Hunt||Ada Ford|
|Anna Massey||Elvira Smollett|
|Clive Revill||Sergeant Andrews|
|Finlay Currie||The Doll Maker|
|Lucie Mannheim||The Cook|
|Noël Coward||Horatio Wilson|
|Delphi Lawrence||1st Mother|
|Suky Appleby||Bunny Lake|
Production details 
Adapting the original novel, Preminger re-set the story from New York to London, where he liked working. His dark, sinister vision of London made use of many real locations; Barry Elder's Doll Museum in Hammersmith stood in for the dolls' hospital, the Little People's Garden School used a real school in Hampstead, and the 'Frogmore End' house was one that had belonged to novelist Daphne du Maurier's father. Preminger had found the novel's denouement lacking in credibility so he changed the identity of the would-be murderer, which needed many re-writes from his British husband-and-wife scriptwriters John Mortimer and Penelope Mortimer before the famously demanding director was satisfied.
As with its thematic predecessor, Psycho, audiences were not admitted after the film's start, which was not common practice at the time. This was heavily emphasized in the film's promotion, including on the poster, which warned "No One Admitted While the Clock is Ticking!".
English rock band The Zombies are featured in the credits and on the film's poster for their contribution of three songs to the film's soundtrack: "Remember You", "Just Out of Reach" and "Nothing's Changed". The band is prominently featured performing on a television in the pub where Supt. Newhouse meets with Ann, and "Just Out of Reach" plays on a janitor's radio as Ann escapes from the hospital. In addition, and with Preminger present in the studio, the band recorded a two-minute radio ad set to the tune of "Just Out of Reach" that promoted the film's release and urged audiences to "Come on time!" in keeping with the film's no-late-admissions policy. These efforts represent an early instance of the now-common Hollywood practice of promotional tie-ins with popular musical acts.
- Orr, John, Otto Preminger and the End of Classical Cinema, sensesofcinema.com, 2006, retrieved 24 July 2008
- Thompson, Nathaniel, Bunny Lake is Missing on DVD, tcm.com, retrieved 24 July 2008
- Foster Hirsch, "Otto Preminger: The Man Who Would Be King" (2007).
- Alec Palao (1997). "Begin Here and Singles" and "In the Studio Rare and Unissued". In Zombie Heaven (pp. 46-47 & 58) [CD booklet]. London: Big Beat Records.
- Maria DiBattista (Princeton University): "Afterword". In: Evelyn Piper: Bunny Lake Is Missing (Femmes Fatales: Women Write Pulp) (The Feminist Press at The City University of New York: New York, 2004) 198-219 (ISBN 1-55861-474-5) (includes a discussion of the differences between Piper's novel and Preminger's film version).
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Bunny Lake Is Missing|
- Bunny Lake Is Missing at the Internet Movie Database
- Bunny Lake Is Missing at AllRovi
- Bunny Lake Is Missing at the TCM Movie Database