Pressure Point (film)
|Directed by||Hubert Cornfield|
|Produced by||Stanley Kramer|
|Screenplay by||Hubert Cornfield
S. Lee Pogostin
|Based on||Destiny's Tot
1955 short story
by Robert Mitchell Lindner
|Music by||Ernest Gold|
|Edited by||Frederic Knudtson|
|Distributed by||United Artists|
|Budget||less than $1 million|
Pressure Point is a 1962 psychological drama film about a prison psychiatrist who is called upon to treat a Nazi sympathizer during World War II. It stars Sidney Poitier and Bobby Darin. The film was based on the short story "Destiny's Tot" by Robert Lindner.
Poitier plays the unnamed chief psychiatrist at an institution in 1962. A doctor on his staff is frustrated with his patient and wants him assigned to another doctor. The psychiatrist then tells of having a similar experience 20 years earlier with a Nazi sympathizer. A flashback begins.
In the flashback, a new prisoner arrives and is assigned to the psychiatrist. The doctor soon discovers the prisoner was arrested for sedition by joining the German American Bund and calling for overthrow of the American government. he prisoner discusses sociopathic behaviors throughout his life with the psychiatrist, each being shown as a flashback first to his childhood where he had an abusive alcoholic father and mother with dependency issues, second to his early adulthood where he leads a gang of young adults terrorizing various locations and then to recently in the prisoner's life where he had joined the Nazi party. Throughout the inmate's life, he has displayed a lack of emotion for those around them and works to obtain only pleasure for himself through disruptive acts displaying the traits of Antisocial Personality Disorder.
Throughout the series of flashbacks, the doctor begins to understand that the inmate is a danger to society at large and that, if released, would go about using his superficial wits and charms for his own ends. The doctor risks his reputation to have the inmate contained because outside of his office the inmate has a reputation as a model prisoner. The psychiatric staff decide to release the prisoner against his recommendation, believing he is biased against the inmate due to his belief in Nazism. This ends the flashback. When the other doctor asked what happened to the inmate, it is revealed that he later beat a man to death for no reason.
- Sidney Poitier as Doctor
- Bobby Darin as Patient
- Peter Falk as Young psychiatrist
- Carl Benton Reid as Chief medical officer
- Mary Munday as Bar hostess
- Barry Gordon as Boy patient
- Howard Caine as Tavern owner
- Gilbert Green as Jewish father
- Anne Barton as Mother
- James Anderson as Father
- Richard Bakalyan as Jimmy
- Lynn Loring as Jewish girl
- Yvette Vickers as Drunken woman
The prisoner displays sociopathic behavior, often manipulating people with no regard to consequence but furthermore he talks at lengths of the nature of humanity and how psychotic people take advantage of other people's needs. The ideas of race come up, as the inmate taunts him about his views on Nazism, he talks at length of how people use race and religion as scapegoats to control the minds of people with nothing else to take their frustrations out.
The interactions between Poitier and the inmate draw to the tensions of race relations in the 1960s, when the film was originally released.
The film delves deep into the mind of the inmate through psychoanalysis performed by Poitier. Psychiatry plays a large role in the film and is displayed as a positive force for the understanding of the minds of man.
Poitier believed that Stanley Kramer cast him for political reasons, ie. placing a black man in a role that wasn't race-specific, believing that it was more important than any box office. In his autobiography, he notes obviously a picture about a black psychiatrist treating white patients was not the kind of sure-fire package that would send audiences rushing into theatres across the country. But Kramer had other gods to serve, and he was faithful to them. 
The film recorded a loss of $991,000.
- Tino Balio, United Artists: The Company That Changed the Film Industry, University of Wisconsin Press, 1987 p. 145
- Sidney Poitier - "This Life", Hodder and Stoughton, 1980, P. 242
- Turner Classic Movies Presents Leonard Maltin's Classic Movie Guide