(br) wrote: Made Much Easier to Solve Than in the Book Last winter, I went through a pulp jag. I read about a dozen or so trashy pulp novels, and I mean the authentic ones. Oh, sure, Hammett, but there's also this collection of pulp novels written by women, usually under male pseudonyms, which caught my interest. This book was one of them. It was a challenging little piece of work. Its story was gripping, sucking me in pretty quickly. The writing wasn't the best, but for pulp, it was pretty good. Novels such as this weren't intended to stand the test of time. They were intended to sell a lot of copies quickly and then be off the shelves in time to let in a whole new batch of them. We've gotten some great fiction out of this genre, though, and some really enduring characters. Nick Charles was a pulp character, of course, and Sam Spade. Philip Marlowe. Mike Hammer. All the great, tough, hard-boiled detectives of the '40s were pulp men. And, no, none of the books I read over the winter that had been written by women had characters of that feel. There is no hard-bitten detective here. However, that is not the only possible good to come from pulp. Ann Lake (Carol Lynley) has brought her daughter, Felicia--called Bunny--to school for the first time in a new city. (Here London; we'll talk about the problems of that change in a minute.) She goes to pick her up from school, and the child has vanished completely. No one at the school remembers having seen her; the school doesn't even have a record of her. Bunny Lake might as well not exist. Ann is frantic, of course, because not only is Bunny missing, but so is everything the child owns. Her passport. No one seems to have ever seen her. Ann's brother, Steven (Keir Dullea), seems a little over-interested in Ann and Ann's troubles, which in turn seems to direct the cops' interests away from the missing Bunny and toward something a little more unseemly. He also seems to be giving the police hints that not all is as Ann says it is. Here's the thing. The book is set in New York. The movie is set in London. The Lakes are still Americans. Ann and Bunny are recent arrivals to British shores--Bunny, we are informed, has her own passport. This makes the mystery of Bunny's existence quite easy to solve. However, in the book, they're in New York. They're in that great sea of humanity with a thousand entrances and exits, with no way to track, no records to search. Mrs. Lake, Ann's mother (Blanche's mother, in the book), is there to "take care" of Blanche and Bunny, but she vanishes, too. There is no doubt that Mrs. Lake exists, of course, but without her, there is no one who will stand by Blanche and swear that Bunny exists. And since Bunny is illegitimate, no one back home will come forward to speak for her. With the Lakes having come to London from the Americas, there is one port of entrance. There is one easy, simple way to check if Bunny exists. All other traces of the child's existence have been removed, but the person who has taken the child cannot take her legal records of immigration. It's too easy a dodge. Apparently, Preminger had the ending of the movie changed because he didn't find the book ending believable. Which, okay, it was a little bizarre. However, I do not think he has upped the believability ante. For one thing, the landlord character (Nol Coward, of all people) goes prancing through with his weird little whip obsession and his coming and going without reason. He's not notably better, and arguably worse, than the helpful older man Blanche finds in the book. The character of Steven is, of course, nonexistent and therefore unable to be both a witness of Bunny's existence and someone who can slip little hints that she didn't exist after all. Crazy Ada Ford (Martita Hunt) on the top floor, casting doubt on Steven, seems there only to provide us with another suspect. I will say that the police officer role is more than adequately filled by dear Baron Larry as Superintendent Newhouse, but otherwise, the changes are kind of irritating. It's not a bad film, though the transfer to London opens more plot holes than I think Preminger knows what to do with. There's real suspense, especially since the character who sets the whole thing in motion does not exist in this version. There's always something not-quite-right happening between the various characters, an important aspect in any story of this nature. It's photographed well enough--you can seldom fault Preminger there--and the cast was chosen well. On the whole, I'd rather go back and reread the book than rewatch the movie, but that's not to say I'd try to talk you out of watching the movie once. There are rumours of a remake, though the release date seems to have been pushed back a year or two, which makes me suspect it's not likely to happen at all. However, I'm curious as to whether a remake would be a retelling of this version of the story or a telling of the story as it appears on the page.