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An amnesia melodrama directed by Delbert Mann, Mister Buddwing (1965), recalls the theme of Hitchcock's Spellbound (1945), the thriller which started the "who am I" trend. Mr. Buddwing was also known by the alternate title of Woman Without a Face and was based on a novel by Evan Hunter, the author of The Blackboard Jungle. James Garner (the star of TV's Maverick) plays a man who wakes up on a Central Park bench with no clue to his identity other than a telephone number scrawled on a scrap of paper. He creates his name, Sam Buddwing, from a passing beer truck and the sight of an airplane soaring over Manhattan.
Shot in crisp black and white on location in Manhattan, the film features Suzanne Pleshette (from the TV series, The Bob Newhart Show) as a free-spirited actress named Fiddle, Tony- Award winner Angela Lansbury (The Manchurian Candidate (1962)) as Gloria, Katharine Ross (Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969)) as Janet, Jean Simmons (Elmer Gantry (1960)) as a high-living blonde and Jack Gilford (A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum (1966)) as Mr. Schwartz. Buddwing experiences a variety of disorienting 'Manhattan scenes' as he struggles to reclaim his memory and uncover the trauma that shattered it. Nichelle Nichols (who inaugurated her role of Lt. Uhura in the television series Star Trek the following year) appears as a glamorous participant in a high-stakes craps game. You can also see Billy Halop, the leader of the original 'Dead End Kids', in a cameo role (His final film appearance was in another Delbert Mann film, Fitzwilly, 1967).
Principal photography began in New York in March of 1964, but was made difficult due to an apparent bi-coastal feud within the labor union representing some of the crew. An attorney for MGM wrote to the New York local, reporting that Assistant Director Erich Von Stroheim, Jr. (son of the famed silent film director and actor) was punched by a crew member. That same memo called director Delbert Mann "the idol of our crews.. because of his (knowledge) of the craft and...lack of affectation or pompousness."
Director: Delbert Mann
Producer: Douglas Laurence, Delbert Mann
Screenplay: Dale Wasserman, based on the novel by Evan Hunter
Cinematography: Ellsworth Fredericks
Editor: Fredric Steinkamp
Art Direction: George W. Davis, Paul Groesse
Music: Kenyon Hopkins
Cast: James Garner (Mr. Buddwing), Jean Simmons (The Blonde), Suzanne Pleshette (Fiddle), Katharine Ross (Janet), Angela Lansbury (Gloria), George Voskovec (Shabby Old Man).
BW-100m. Closed Captioning.
by Jessica Handler