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A 15-year-old''''s obsession with a co-worker leads to a deadly string of crimes.
In London, fifteen-year-old Mike starts his first job at a public bathhouse. While coworker Susan shows him around, he falls into the pool, discomfited by her sensual beauty. One day, Susan asks Mike to cover for her, knowing that he can receive large tips from the lecherous female clients. The naïve Mike is flustered by a seductive older customer, but she eventually corners him in a private room and masturbates while rubbing him against her breasts. Later, Susan finds Mike hiding on the bathhouse roof and hands him his ten-pound tip, offering to identify likely clients for him. Although Mike assumes Susan is good-hearted, when his parents then visit and he asks her to treat his mother with deference, Susan calls his mother "a cow." Mike is confused by her crudeness and malice, but when she leaves that night, he follows her on his bike. The next day, Susan once again sets Mike up with a female client, after which he spots his former gym teacher leading a swim class and flirting with the young female students. Later, as Mike and Susan enjoy the pool after their work shift, Mike's old friends harass her and when he fights with them, they push him in the pool. Under water, he fantasizes that Susan is swimming next to him, naked. When he leaves the bathhouse, however, and helps the teacher with his stalled car, the gym teacher mentions Susan and Mike realizes to his horror that they are sleeping together. Over the next weeks, she flirts with Mike, but informs him that she is engaged to a man named Chris. One day, Mike follows Chris and Susan on their date to a sex film. He sits behind her in the theater and, when Chris looks away, fondles her. Susan slaps him, but as soon as Chris walks out to inform the manager, she turns and kisses Mike. Thrilled, he remains calm even after the police are called in, and when Susan insists to Chris that they leave without pressing charges, the police are forced to let Mike go. On the street, he spots Chris following him and tells a bobby that Chris is trying to molest him. The next day on the roof Susan and Mike discuss Chris, and although Mike insists that Susan does not love him, she points out that he is buying her a diamond ring that evening. Moments later, Mike sees Susan kissing the teacher, and crushed, sets off the fire alarm. When the manager realizes it has been set off deliberately, he blames Susan. After work, Mike steers his bike in front of the teacher's car, in which Susan is a passenger, and when the teacher gets out of the car to talk to Mike, Susan runs over his bike. Days later, Mike's ex-girl friend Kathy arrives at the bathhouse and encourages him to make love to her, but he gently rebuffs her, stating that his school days seem distant to him. Susan continues to flirt with Mike, who grows more and more obsessed with her. One night, he follows her and Chris into a swank nightclub. Unable to pay the door charge, he wanders the streets, avoiding the various sex shows. Outside one shop, he sees a lifesize cardboard cutout of naked girl with a strong resemblance to Susan. Stealing it, he races into an alley and opens the door to a room in which a prostitute wearing a leg cast invites him to stay. She recognizes the girl on the poster as a stripper named Angelica, and attempts to seduce him using the poster, but disgusted, he grabs it and runs out. He spends hours on the street outside the club eating hot dogs and dodging advances from local girls and religious proselytizers. Finally, Susan exits the club and, after refusing Chris's requests to go home with him, walks to the underground station. Mike follows with the poster and confronts her with it, but she calmly asserts that it is not her. Showing off her new ring, she explains to Mike that he cannot offer her what Chris can, and when she tries to leave, he grabs her. Mike then breaks down, tearing the poster into pieces, and Susan assuages him. Later, he goes to the pool, throws the poster in and swims with it, imagining that it is Susan's naked body. The next day, when Susan attends the teacher's student race competition, Mike joins the runners and bursts to the lead. As Susan hurls a snowball hard at a little dog, Mike mistakenly leaves the track, believing the race finished, and loses. Frustrated, he breaks a bottle and places the glass shards under the teacher's car tires. When Susan tries to drive off and flattens the tires, he jumps out laughing and she chases him into the snowy park. While wrestling, she knocks out his tooth with her diamond, and upon realizing that the diamond has fallen out of its setting, searches through the snow in a panic. Mike helps her collect all the nearby snow in garbage bags and bring them back to the closed bathhouse, where they dump the snow into the now emptied pool and rummage through it. Mike lowers a heavy light fixture into the pool to provide illumination, and after Susan removes her stockings, they use them as a sieve. Just then, the teacher knocks on the door, and when Mike forbids Susan to let him in, he crawls in the window and demands that she join him, but she rebels at his commanding tone. As they fight, he mentions his wife, prompting her to shout that he is bad in bed and call him pathetic. After he leaves, Susan realizes that their search may take hours, and so calls Chris with an excuse why she will be late for their date. Returning to the pool, she finds Mike lying naked under a pile of towels. He shows her that he has found the diamond and is holding it on his tongue, and desperate to recover it, she removes her clothes. Noting her reluctance, Mike gives her the diamond, but when she sees how distraught he is, she lets him make love to her. When he proves impotent, however, she runs to answer Chris's telephone call, then dresses to leave. While Mike pleads with her to stay, the teacher breaks into the main bathhouse offices and flips the switch to fill the pool with water. As the level rises, Mike holds onto Susan more urgently, begging her to stay. Finally she is able to break free, but as she climbs the pool ladder, he swings the lighting fixture at the back of her head. It smashes her skull and she slowly falls below the water, dead. Mike embraces her body under the water, finally able to possess her.
Cast & Crew
|MPAA Ratings:||R||Premiere Info:||Venice Film Festival screening: 1 Sep 1970; New York opening: 10 Aug 1971; Los Angeles opening: 25 Aug 1971|
|Release Date:||1971||Production Date:||
A Jerzy Skolimowski Film
|Color/B&W:||Color (Eastmancolor)||Distributions Co:||Paramount Pictures Corp.|
|Sound:||Mono||Production Co:||Maran Film, Kettledrum Productions, Inc., Bavaria Atelier|
|Duration(mins):||87, 90 or 92||Country:||Germany and United States|
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John Fritz 2006-01-22
An unsung masterpiece from Polish director/actor Jerzy Skolimowski. Filmed in Berlin but set in London, the film has a strange netherworld quality to it -...