See No Evil (1971 film)

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See No Evil
Theatrical release poster
Directed byRichard Fleischer
Written byBrian Clemens
Produced byMartin Ransohoff
Leslie Linder
CinematographyGerry Fisher
Edited byThelma Connell
Music byElmer Bernstein
Distributed byColumbia Pictures
Release dates
  • 2 September 1971 (1971-09-02) (United States)
  • 16 September 1971 (1971-09-16) (United Kingdom)
Running time
89 minutes
  • United Kingdom[1]
  • United States[1]
Budget$1.2 million[2]

See No Evil (released in the United Kingdom as Blind Terror) is a 1971 British psychological horror-thriller film directed by Richard Fleischer and starring Mia Farrow as a recently blinded woman who is stalked by a psychopath while staying at her family's rural estate. Fleischer called the film "sheer entertainment" made "to scare the hell out of audiences."[3]


After being blinded in a horse riding accident, Sarah (Mia Farrow) visits her uncle's stately home. Out on a date with her boyfriend, Steve (Norman Eshley), she escapes the fate of her relatives (Dorothy Alison, Robin Bailey, and Diane Grayson), who are murdered at their home, along with the gardener, by a psychotic killer. Sarah returns from her date and spends the night in the house, unaware that three of her family members' corpses are strewn in various rooms.

Sarah eventually discovers the bodies. She is surprised to find Barker, who survived being shot and informs Sarah of what has happened. He also tells Sarah the killer is returning to retrieve a bracelet he left behind and directs her to where to locate it before succumbing to his injuries and dying. Sarah discovers the bracelet contains an engraved name on it, which she correctly assumes belongs to the killer. The killer returns to search for the lost bracelet. His face is only shown to the audience in the film's last scene, otherwise he is only shown from the knees down, wearing jeans and distinctive leather boots. He discovers Sarah, who manages to flee on horseback into the woods, where she meets and is saved by a family of gypsies.

When Sarah shows them the bracelet, they see the name "Jack" inscribed on it. This leads Tom (Michael Elphick), the head of the family, to conclude his brother, Jack, must be the murderer, as he was dating one of the murdered women from the estate. In an effort to save Jack, Tom pretends to take Sarah to the police but instead locks her in a secluded shed. His plan is to then round up the family and flee the area.

Sarah escapes from the shed and is found by Steve, out searching for her. She tells him all she knows. Steve and his men leave Sarah at his house to recuperate and begin a search for the killer, who they assume is a gypsy. They come across the two gypsy brothers and are about to assault them when a frantic Jack explains that his brother suspected him of being the killer because of the name on the bracelet. However Jack insists he had nothing to do with it. They look at the bracelet again and see the name on it is actually "Jacko".

Steve, upon learning the killer's real name, hurries away with his men. Back at his house it is revealed that Jacko is one of Steve's workers, left behind to guard Sarah. The killer, still searching for his lost bracelet, is stealthily going through the pockets of Sarah's clothes, left beside the tub while she is taking a bath. When she reaches for a towel she touches his hand. Both are momentarily startled, then Jacko attempts to drown Sarah in the bath. At the last possible moment, when it seems he has succeeded, Steve races in, just in time to save her.




Interviewed in 1997, writer Brian Clemens recalled that he wrote the script 'on spec' and Columbia Pictures told him: "'Well, if Mia Farrow plays the lead, we'll buy it,' and she read it and liked it, and so they bought it and we shot it.'"[4] Fleischer said Clemens "gave us a good story, a very workable one for a director, if tough on the star."[3] It was Farrow's first movie since the birth of her twins in February. She had a large percentage of the gross.[2]

The film was a co-production of interests from the United Kingdom and the United States.[1] Fleischer had just made Ten Rillington Place for the same producers, Martin Ransohodd and Leslie Linder. The film was originally called Buff.[5]

Farrow visited a hospital for the blind as part of her research. She used special contact lenses during the shoot to help convey blindness.[3]

Dorothy Alison was married to producer Leslie Linder.


Filming took place in Berkshire, England, with a mainly British cast and crew starting in October 1970.[6] It was shot in and around the house used in the film. There was no studio work.[3]


The original music score was by Andre Previn, married to Farrow at the time. Producer Leslie Linder disliked it and hired David Whitaker to write a new score. This was also thrown out and then Elmer Bernstein hired to write the music.[7] Fleischer says what happened was after the film was completed they changed the "opening titles of the picture to give it more social significance." They wanted Previn to alter the music score but he was away in Russia. As Previn's contract said his music could not be altered, Flesicher claims they had to throw it out."[2] Previn had a different version of the story.[8]

Reception and criticism[edit]

Its theatrical release in the United States was 'a box office disappointment' and reviews were 'generally mixed'.[6] The New York Times wrote:

"See No Evil has its share of thrills. Cheap thrills, to be sure, but thrills none the less - and everything in the rest of Richard Fleischer's new movie... encourages us to value small favors. Attempting on the one hand to mean something and on the other hand trying to crank up the terror, Fleischer keeps suggesting confrontations between the rich and the poor, the old and the young, families with daughters to protect and men with warped desires. For all the potency of a camera movement, it can never have exactly the power of a conceptual image, and therefore "See No Evil" is better with its mindless terror than with its witless meaning. And although everything becomes far too much long before it is over, the movie is generally at it most ridiculous precisely where it hopes to make sense."[9]

Variety called it "a perfect modern speciment of the old-style A-plus suspense programmer which often broke through to the big time... Superbly written... brilliantly photographed."[10]

"For sheer suspense", wrote The Palm Beach Post, it "may well be without peer", but, while praising the performance of Mia Farrow, considered the 'fiendish gamut' of injury her character is subjected to could 'only be called sadism'.[11]

Screenwriter Brian Clemens was nominated for an Edgar Allan Poe Award.[citation needed]

Later reviewers have described the film as a 'creepy, atmospheric thriller', in the style of Terence Young's 1967 film Wait Until Dark,[12] while critic John Derry highlights the way Mia Farrow is presented 'from the first moment' as 'the obvious victim'.[13]

See No Evil made its US television premiere on NBC Monday Night at the Movies in January 1974.

Immediately after the film Fleischer received a call to take over direction of The Last Run.[14]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "See No Evil". AFI Catalog of Feature Films. Archived from the original on 21 April 2020. (Note: Toggle between "History", "Details", and other tabs for full scope of source)
  2. ^ a b c "Fleischer Just Not Much of a Talker". Los Angeles Times. 1 August 1971: q15.
  3. ^ a b c d Hale, Wanda (22 August 1971). "Mia and the mass murderer". Daily News. p. C27.
  4. ^ Wheeler W. Dixon (28 February 2000). The Second Century of Cinema: The Past and Future of the Moving Image. SUNY Press. p. 126. ISBN 978-0-7914-4516-7.
  5. ^ "Movie Call Sheet". The Los Angeles Times. 3 October 1970. p. 28.
  6. ^ a b Stafford, Jeff. "See No Evil (1971)". Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved 4 November 2013.[permanent dead link]
  7. ^ Stevenspage=43, Mark (Spring 1972). "The Score". Cinefantastique.{{cite magazine}}: CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  8. ^ Reed, Rex (15 August 1971). "Music to quarrel by". Daily News. p. S9.
  9. ^ Greenspun, Roger (11 September 1971). "'Mindless terror, witless meaning': See No Evil 'has thrills' with Mia Farrow, and likable cast". Calgary Herald. Retrieved 4 November 2013. Reprint of The New York Times review
  10. ^ Variety Reviews 1971-74. Bowker. 1983. p. 118.
  11. ^ Benninger, Jerry (11 October 1971). "See No Evil: Sheer Suspense". The Palm Beach Post. Retrieved 4 November 2013.
  12. ^ Yoram Allon; Del Cullen; Hannah Patterson (2002). Contemporary North American Film Directors: A Wallflower Critical Guide. Wallflower Press. p. 173. ISBN 978-1-903364-52-9.
  13. ^ Charles Derry (1988). The Suspense Thriller: Films in the Shadow of Alfred Hitchcock. McFarland. p. 35. ISBN 978-0-7864-6240-7.
  14. ^ "The Quiet American". Evening Sentinel. 31 July 1971. p. 4.

External links[edit]