Pretty Poison

Call it Bobby sox noir? The 1968 Pretty Poison begins as a kind of Billy Liar or The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, with Anthony Perkins portraying a mentally unstable young man released from the loony bin to play spy games like a big kid in an adult world. While he's not entirely harmless (a vindictive streak leads to a little industrial sabotage), he's an innocent compared to his new high-school sweetie. Tuesday Weld comes on as all blond bounce and wide-eyed excitability, but behind her schoolgirl smile is a cagey, bored girl finding an outlet for her dark imagination. "The world is no place for fantasies," his probation officer warns Dennis, and Sue Ann is the biggest fantasy of all. There's a feral edge to Weld's teenage femme fatale, while Perkins grounds the dark satire with a quiet heartbreak and disillusionment. (The real world is far more cruel than his made-up Cold War conspiracies). Director Noel Black underplays the more caustic edges of Lorenzo Semple Jr.'s script, even as he foregrounds the poison pouring—quite literally—through this pretty little small town. (NR) SEAN AXMAKER

Fri., June 8, 7 & 9 p.m.; June 9-14, 2012

 
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