The Collector (1965 film)
Australian theatrical release poster
|Directed by||William Wyler|
|Produced by||Jud Kinberg
|Written by||Stanley Mann
John Fowles (novel)
|Music by||Maurice Jarre|
|Distributed by||Columbia Pictures|
|Release date(s)||June 17, 1965|
|Running time||119 minutes|
|Box office||$3,500,000 (rentals)|
The Collector is a 1965 American psychological thriller film based on the 1963 novel The Collector by John Fowles and filmed at various locations in England. The film was adapted by Stanley Mann and John Kohn and was directed by William Wyler, who turned down The Sound of Music to do it. It starred Terence Stamp and Samantha Eggar.
Frederick Clegg (Terence Stamp) is a lonely young man who collects butterflies. After winning a large sum of money in a football pool, he buys an isolated country house and begins stalking pretty, young art student, Miranda Grey (Samantha Eggar). One day after following her in his van, Frederick kidnaps and chloroforms Miranda. He loads her unconscious body into the back of the van and drives to his new house, locking Miranda in the windowless stone cellar that he has prepared with a bed, some furnishings, and an electric heater. When Miranda awakens, she angrily demands to be released, but Frederick serves her tea instead. He later goes into London where the headlines are about Miranda's disappearance. When Frederick returns to Miranda, she says she is not rich and reasons he must only want her for sex. Frederick instead proclaims his love for Miranda and tells her how they are from the same area in Reading. After realizing she cannot escape and he will not let her go, Miranda fakes appendicitis as a ploy to escape, but is caught. After some haggling, Miranda "agrees" to stay for four weeks, but only if he gives her his word that he will let her go at the end of that time.
Miranda stays locked in the cellar, except for occasional baths in the main house. During one instance, a pushy neighbor (Maurice Dallimore) comes over during one of Miranda's baths and she floods the bathroom and stairwell in an attempt to get his attention. Though the neighbor is curious, Frederick says that his girlfriend upstairs was too embarrassed to call for help. Later, as Frederick proudly shows her his massive butterfly collection, she is shocked by the living beauty he has destroyed, and realizes that he's "collected" her. Four weeks go by, and on the night of her promised release, Frederick surprises Miranda with a formal dinner and champagne. He presents her with a wedding ring and asks her to marry him. When Miranda agrees, Frederick becomes suspicious of her motives because she knows full well they cannot get married without witnesses. As she tries to leave, he chloroforms her after a struggle and locks her in the basement again.
During her next outing in the main house, Miranda attempts to seduce Frederick. After first giving in to temptation, he becomes appalled and tells her he has lost all respect for her, and he can't allow her to leave. Miranda realizes just how unstable Frederick is, and that she will never leave alive. While being taken back to the cellar in the rain, she seizes a nearby shovel and strikes Frederick in the head with it. Frederick is wounded, but he manages to pull her back into the cellar, breaking the heater during their struggles. Frederick then drives his van to a hospital and is helped inside by a nurse. Miranda remains locked in the cold cellar, soaking wet, not knowing if Frederick died from the head injury or not.
Frederick returns three days later to find Miranda terribly ill, and he goes into town to get a doctor. He leaves in such a rush that he leaves the doors open, but Miranda is too weak to gather the strength to leave. Once in town, Frederick stops himself from going inside the doctor's office, instead returning alone with some medicine. He enters the cellar to find Miranda dead. In a voice over, he says it was Miranda's fault for not trying to get to know him and for losing his respect. He reveals that Miranda is buried under an oak tree on his property in a box he made, and she got everything she deserved. He says his only mistake was trying to deal with someone like Miranda, who was much too clever and of a different social background. He has decided that he needs to find someone simpler and more common whom he can "teach".
The final scene shows Frederick back behind the wheel of his van, stalking a young nurse.
- Terence Stamp as Freddie Clegg
- Samantha Eggar as Miranda Grey
- Mona Washbourne as Aunt Annie
- Maurice Dallimore as Neighbor
- Allyson Ames as First victim
- William Bickley as Crutchley
- Gordon Barclay as Clerk
- David Haviland as Clerk
- Edina Ronay as the Nurse
- Kenneth More as 'GP' (scenes deleted)
Terence Stamp later confessed in his autobiography his own surprise as being chosen for the role, expecting Anthony Perkins or John Hurt to play Clegg. Having been chosen, he assumed (as had most others) that Julie Christie — regarded at that time as the best young actress of the era — would be given the role of Miranda, but Wyler chose Samantha Eggar because he thought it would introduce the correct air of sexual tension and awkwardness between the two protagonists. Wyler also knew Eggar had turned Stamp down when they both were studying together at Webber Douglas Academy of Dramatic Art.
Wyler gave Stamp private instructions to stay in character and give Eggar the cold shoulder during the filming. This created tension on the set between the two actors. Stamp said, "All the guys had crushes on her, she was so beautiful...I had a crush on her, too, and I was friendly with her. But when we started the movie, Willy said, 'I don't want you to have anything to do with her.' He wanted me to withdraw any friendship. He didn't want her to have anywhere to go or anyone to talk to, except her coach. He didn't want her to be able to come to me in the evening and say, 'God, it's so awful'."
Eggar confirmed this: "Terence was at Webber Douglas with me. So we knew each other then. But for the sake of the movie, we never spoke throughout the whole film. He really was that character, both off camera and on. It was not...an easy film to make. It was tough. The tension was real. And if the tension wasn't there -- if I didn’t exude precisely what he wanted -- well, Willie just poured cold water over me."
The screenplay was written by Stanley Mann and John Kohn, based on the novel by John Fowles. However Terry Southern did an uncredited script revision for Wyler after the producers became unhappy with the book's original darker ending; they wanted Miranda to escape. Southern wrote a scene where she created a Papier-mâché duplicate of herself, in order to trick Freddie into entering the cellar. She then ran out and locked him in. Miranda would then be seen picnicking with friends outside the country house and the last shot would be of the cellar door. However this material was not used after Wyler insisted on the original ending, exactly as in Fowles's novel, with Freddie beginning to think about collecting another girl.
The original cut of The Collector ran for three hours. Because of pressure from his producers, Wyler was forced to cut the film heavily. This resulted in the complete removal of 35 minutes of prologue material starring Kenneth More. Wyler said: "Some of the finest footage I ever shot wound up on the cutting room floor, including Kenneth's part." 
The film was nominated at 38th Academy Awards for Best Actress in a Leading Role (Samantha Eggar), Best Director (William Wyler) and Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium.
- This figure consists of anticipated rentals accruing distributors in North America. See "Top Grossers of 1965", Variety, 5 January 1966 p 36
- "The Collector". TCM. Retrieved 21 June 2012.
- "Collecting Life: An Interview with Samantha Eggar". The Terror Trap. Retrieved 30 July 2014.
- Vipond, Dianne (editor) (2000). Conversations with John Fowles. University Press of Mississippi. ISBN 1578061911.
- McClelland, Doug (1972). The Unkindest Cuts: The Scissors and the Cinema. A. S. Barnes. ISBN 0498078256.
- "Festival de Cannes: The Collector". festival-cannes.com. Retrieved 2009-03-03.
- The Collector film profile at The New York Times
- The Collector at the Internet Movie Database
- The Collector (1965 film) at AllMovie