Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Roy Boulting|
|Produced by||Frank Granat
George W. George
|Screenplay by||Roy Boulting
|Story by||Roger Marshall|
|Based on||an idea
by Roger Marshall
and Jeremy Scott
|Music by||Bernard Hermann|
|Editing by||Martin Charles|
|Studio||Charter Film Productions|
|Distributed by||British Lion Film Corporation|
|Running time||118 minutes|
Twisted Nerve is a 1968 British psychological thriller film directed by Roy Boulting and starring Hywel Bennett, Hayley Mills, Russell Napier, and Billie Whitelaw. The film follows a disturbed young man, Martin, who pretends, under the name of Georgie, to be mentally retarded to be near Susan, a girl he has become infatuated with, killing those who get in his way.
The film opens with Martin playing catch with his younger brother, Pete who has learning difficulties and lives in a segregated school in London. Martin is the only thread to Pete's family life; their father died years before and their mother has a new life with a new husband. Martin expresses concern for his brother's well-being to the school's physician, who is comfortable with Pete's progress.
After the title sequence, Martin is shown in a toy store, gazing at Susan, who purchases a toy. As she leaves, Martin follows. Two store detectives ask them to return to the manager's office. The detectives assert that Martin and Susan were working together to allow Martin to steal a toy. Susan assures them she has never met Martin. The manager asks Susan for her address and Martin appears to make a mental note when she offers it. When questioned by the manager, Martin turns soft, presents himself as mentally challenged and calls himself "Georgie". Sympathetic to him, Susan pays for the toy. Certain that this was a misunderstanding, the manager lets them leave.
Martin returns home and finds his parents arguing in the parlor, over his lack of interest in life. There is allusion to some perverse behaviour he has exhibited, though this is not elaborated upon. He shuts himself in his room. While secluded, Martin stares in the mirror, bare chested, examining his frame. He seems disappointed at his appearance, eventually punching and cracking the mirror in frustration. The camera reveals a stack of body building magazines on Martin's dresser.
The next day, Martin goes to Susan's house and waits for her to return. She arrives with a young Indian man named Shashee. He drops off Susan, who thanks him and she goes to the library, where she keeps an after-school job. Martin approaches Susan who immediately recognises him as "Georgie". He tells her that he followed her and pays her back for the toy. Before he leaves, Martin, as Georgie, gets Susan to lend him a book about animals.
Martin has a heated conversation with his stepfather, who insists he travel to Australia. Martin refuses, then sets in motion a plan to leave home, pretend to go to France and then go on to live with Susan. Martin leaves his family and shows up late at Susan's mother's house, where she rents rooms. Presenting himself as Georgie, he gains sympathy both from Susan and her mother and they let him stay.
The plot unravels with Martin's duplicitous nature clashing against his desires to win Susan's heart. He wants her to accept him as a lover but cannot reveal that he is in fact Martin, as he is worried she will shun him. Meanwhile, Martin uses his new-found identity to seek revenge on his stepfather, who believes he is in France. This series of decisions leads Martin down the path of self-destruction.
- Hywel Bennett as Martin Durnley / Georgie
- Hayley Mills as Susan Harper
- Russell Napier as Professor Fuller
- Billie Whitelaw as Joan Harper
- Phyllis Calvert as Enid Durnley
- Frank Finlay as Henry Durnley
- Barry Foster as Gerry Henderson
- Salmaan Peer as Shashee Kadir
- Christian Roberts as Philip Harvey
- Gretchen Franklin as Clarkie
- Thorley Walters as Sir John Forrester
- Timothy West as Superintendent Dakin
- Timothy Bateson as Mr. Groom
- Richard Davies as Taffy Evans
- Basil Dignam as Doctor
- Mollie Maureen as Female patient
- Robin Parkinson as Shop manager
- Brian Peck as Det. Sgt. Rogers
The theme can also be heard in several episodes of American Horror Story, a horror-drama television series created by Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk, which premiered on FX on 5 October 2011. The character of Tate (played by Evan Peters) has many similarities to Martin.
The theme can also be heard about 40 minutes into the 2012 Tamil film 'Thadaiyara Thaakka' as the actress Mamta Mohanda's ringtone.
The film is notorious for its use of Down's syndrome, then referred to as mongolism, as a catalyst for Martin's actions. The film opens with a disclaimer to discount the connection between the disorder and antisocial behaviour.