“A Manhattan psychiatrist probes a patient’s murder and falls for the victim’s mysterious mistress.”

Director: Robert Benton
Writers: Robert Benton, David Newman
Staring: Roy Scheider, Meryl Streep, Jessica Tandy
Release Date: November 19, 1982

Still Of The Night (1982) made its way onto my watchlist because of the trailer’s heavy Hitchcockian vibes. There is a crime, mysterious and shady figures, and trust is not a trading commodity. Still Of The Night pins the unsuspecting hero Sam Rice (Roy Scheider) with the mysterious museum mistress Brooke Reynolds (Meryl Streep), and the two must navigate their sexual tension while trying to not get murdered. It is a valiant effort, but effort only gets you so far.

Rice is Manhattan-based psychiatrist who has a patient George Bynum (Josef Sommer) that gets brutally murdered. Things start getting messy when Reynolds visits Rice’s office, followed right after by the police. Rice is curious and begins going over his notes from his sessions with Bynum, and he begins putting together his own game of clue. His objective mind is getting clouded however by Reynolds, who is simultaneously keeping him at bay but drawing him in…if you know what I mean. In the end all the strings get pulled tight and the gates of the mystery are blown open.

Still Of The Night is no Hitchcock movie. It does not have the same relenting energy that his best mysteries possess. Nor does it have same quick-wit dialogue or playful sexiness. Still Of The Night plays out like a very standard murder-mystery, and the ending acts as more of a comfortable relief than a satisfying conclusion.

The most shocking disappointment of the movie is the one-and-only Meryl Streep. Her portrayal of Brooke Reynolds is one of the few times I have ever seen her not stick the landing on the role. She typically can be like an ameba and mold herself into whatever the movie demands, but Brooke Reynolds proves to be a square in a round hole. I don’t buy Streep as helpless in Still Of The Night. I do not buy her as the typical Htichcockian blond who sticks out. All of her nervousness comes off as over-eager.

Roy Scheider is perfectly fine as Sam Rice. He got the vibe of the movie a bit more, getting into the brooding aspect. His nervous energy at the auction is the most believable of any in Still Of The Night. It is the best scene in the entire movie. Don’t ask me why, but it feels like this auction scene was fairly accurate to what it would be in real life in terms of what everyone does and the different moving parts.

As with all murder mysteries, the ending needs to stick the landing. Still Of The Night screenwriters Robert Benton and David Newman have the classic twist of who really committed the crime, but the execution is what lacks. There is the classic hero thought to be dead but comes back to life and the manor in which the villain dies is foreshadowed very heavily.

Still Of The Night does not have the excitement necessary to keep the audience engaged when the story and acting are also acting as major detriments towards entertainment.

STANKO RATING: D+ (2.0/5 Stars)

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