The Collector (1965 film)

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The Collector
The collector 1965 film poster.jpg
Australian theatrical release poster
Directed byWilliam Wyler
Produced byJud Kinberg
John Kohn
Written byStanley Mann
John Kohn
Based onThe Collector
by John Fowles
StarringTerence Stamp
Samantha Eggar
Mona Washbourne
Music byMaurice Jarre
CinematographyRobert Krasker
Robert Surtees
Edited byDavid Hawkins
Robert Swink
Distributed byColumbia Pictures
Release date
June 17, 1965 (1965-06-17)
Running time
119 minutes
CountryUnited Kingdom
United States
Box office$3,500,000 (rentals)[1]

The Collector is a 1965 British/American psychological crime/thriller film based on the 1963 novel The Collector by John Fowles and filmed at various locations in England.[2] The film was adapted by Stanley Mann and John Kohn and was directed by William Wyler, who turned down The Sound of Music to direct it. It stars Samantha Eggar and Terence Stamp.


Frederick Clegg (Terence Stamp) is a lonely, unbalanced young man who stalks a pretty and young art student, Miranda Grey (Samantha Eggar). One day, after following her in his van, Frederick kidnaps and chloroforms Miranda, locking her in the windowless stone cellar that he has prepared with a bed, some furnishings, and an electric heater. Frederick is a butterfly collector and treats Miranda as if she is one of his specimens.

When Frederick proclaims his love for Miranda, she fakes appendicitis as a ploy to escape but is caught. Seeking her freedom, Miranda tries to connect with Frederick, to bargain with him, and finally to seduce him, all to no avail. Many weeks go by, and Miranda realizes just how unstable Frederick is and that she will never leave alive. While being taken from the house to the cellar in the rain, she seizes a nearby shovel and strikes Frederick in the head with it. Frederick is wounded; but he takes advantage of Miranda's subsequent hesitation and manages to pull her back into the cellar, breaking the heater during their struggle. Miranda remains locked in the cold cellar, soaking wet. Frederick returns three days later to find Miranda terribly ill, and he goes into town to get medicine. When Frederick returns, he finds 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 and that his only mistake was choosing a woman who was much too clever and of a different social background. The final scene shows Frederick back behind the wheel of his van, stalking a young nurse.




In his autobiography, Stamp confessed surprise at being chosen for the role,[citation needed] expecting Anthony Perkins or John Hurt to play Clegg. Having been chosen, he assumed (as had most others)[citation needed] that Julie Christie — regarded at that time as the best young actress of the era[citation needed] — would be given the role of Miranda, but Wyler chose 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.[3]


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's "happier" ending was rejected by Wyler.


The opening kidnap scenes were shot in Mount Vernon, Hampstead, London. The film's ending was filmed in Forest Row, East Sussex.


The original cut of The Collector ran for three hours.[4] 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."[5]


Bosley Crowther of The New York Times wrote that Terence Stamp's character was "entirely mystifying and fascinating" at the beginning, but once it became apparent that nothing more was going to be learned about him "he tends to become monotonous, and finally, a melodramatic blob." Crowther's review concluded that Wyler had made "a tempting and frequently startling, bewitching film, but he has failed to make it any more than a low-key chiller that melts in a conventional puddle of warm blood towards the end."[6] A positive review in Variety called the film "a solid, suspenseful enactment of John Fowles' bestselling novel," directed by Wyler "with taste and imagination."[7] Philip K. Scheuer of the Los Angeles Times wrote of the film that "if it is too clinical to touch any of the livelier emotions — the strongest one it can arouse is hope, and this is blasted again and again — it still manages to picque intellectual curiosity sufficiently to attract the art-house patron in search of the odd or offbeat."[8] Philip Kopper of The Washington Post called it "a fantastic film" that he thought was stronger than the novel because Wyler "removed many of the redundancies and collatoral elements."[9] Edith Oliver of The New Yorker panned the film as "a preposterous fake that pretends to deal seriously with psychopathic behavior but cannot be taken seriously even as a thriller. It evokes no pity, no wonder, no horror, no suspense, no belief, and who cares how it comes out?"[10] John Russell Taylor of Sight & Sound wrote that while the film played as a "diluted version" of the novel, "what we are left with, though paper-thin, is perfectly clear and rather grippingly told."[11] The Monthly Film Bulletin stated that "all the tensions between scenes, the undercurrents beneath what the characters say and do, seem to have disappeared, leaving a good story adequately told but without much cutting edge ... On the other hand, the main body of the story comes over remarkably well."[12]

The film was nominated at 38th Academy Awards for Best Actress in a Leading Role, Best Director, and Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium. It was the last of William Wyler's record 12 Academy Award nominations for Best Director.

Stamp won the Best Actor Award and Eggar won the Best Actress Award at the 1965 Cannes Film Festival.[13] Eggar also won a Golden Globe Award for Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture - Drama.

Robert Berdella[edit]

In 1988, Robert Berdella held his male victims captive and photographed their torture before killing them. He claimed that the film version of The Collector had been his inspiration when he was a teenager.[14]

In Media[edit]

Quotes from the movie are referenced in Stars' song International Rock Star from the album Nightsongs (2001).

The legendary English comic Benny Hill wrote and starred in the gender-swapped parody sketch appropriately titled “The Stamp Collector”. As of December 2018, the earliest version was viewable on Youtube by searching Benny Hill Stamp Collector.


  1. ^ This figure consists of anticipated rentals accruing distributors in North America. See "Top Grossers of 1965", Variety, 5 January 1966 p 36
  2. ^ "The Butterfly Collector – 1965". Archived from the original on 2016-08-16. Retrieved 2 August 2016.
  3. ^ "The Collector". TCM. Retrieved 21 June 2012.; "Collecting Life: An Interview with Samantha Eggar". The Terror Trap. Retrieved 30 July 2014.
  4. ^ Vipond, Dianne (editor) (2000). Conversations with John Fowles. University Press of Mississippi. ISBN 1578061911.CS1 maint: Extra text: authors list (link)
  5. ^ McClelland, Doug (1972). The Unkindest Cuts: The Scissors and the Cinema. A. S. Barnes. ISBN 0498078256.
  6. ^ Crowther, Bosley (June 18, 1965). "Terence Stamp Stars in 'The Collector'". The New York Times: 28.
  7. ^ "Film Reviews: The Collector". Variety: 6. May 26, 1965.
  8. ^ Scheuer, Philip K. (June 20, 1965). "'The Collector' Gathers Dread and Curiosity". Los Angeles Times. Calendar, p. 4.
  9. ^ Kopper, Philip (July 2, 1965). "'Collector' Lives Out Fantasies". The Washington Post: D10.
  10. ^ Oliver, Edith (June 26, 1965). "The Current Cinema". The New Yorker: 80.
  11. ^ Taylor, John Russell (Autumn 1965). "The Collector". Sight & Sound. 34 (4): 201.
  12. ^ "The Collector". The Monthly Film Bulletin. 32 (382): 162. November 1965.
  13. ^ "Festival de Cannes: The Collector". Retrieved 2009-03-03.
  14. ^ Bob Berdella – The Crime library Archived 2007-09-21 at the Wayback Machine

External links[edit]