Bunny Lake Is Missing (1965)
June 24, 2018 4:15 PM - Subscribe

A woman reports that her young daughter is missing, but there seems to be no evidence that she ever existed.

Variety: Bunny Lake is about the only thing missing from Otto Preminger’s exercise in suspense and the viewer is kept in uncertainty about her for most of the film. What Preminger has achieved is an entertaining, fast-paced exercise in the exploration of a sick mind. Evelyn Piper’s 1957 novel dealt entirely with the unpredictable actions of a mother searching for her child (real or imaginary) who had disappeared. To this plot skeleton Preminger has added an equally important character whose predictable actions provide the search’s principal obstacles.

The New Yorker: On her first day at her new school, young Bunny vanishes, although nobody—neither teachers nor students nor, for that matter, viewers—have seen her. The dapper, ironic Superintendent Newhouse (Laurence Olivier) takes over the investigation. His imputations regarding Ann’s sanity take over the story, but the film’s real charge lies elsewhere—in Preminger’s view of a jolting, disoriented age of rock and roll. The mental chaos of the time is reflected in the behavior of the local solipsistic eccentrics (including a randy raconteur, played by Noël Coward), the nightmarish images, the backdrop of student protest and political crisis, and the frenzied soundtrack, which features the music of the Zombies.

AV Club: By building a world where nearly every character flaunts a dark or disturbing side, Preminger turns a relatively simple mystery into an unsettling funhouse ride where nothing can be assumed or assured.


Preminger doles out his spare revelations gradually, stacking the deck first one way, then the other, so that it's frequently unclear whether Lynley is an object of sympathy, horror, contempt, or all three. Typically, Preminger places his camera at a focal point in a shot, then has his actors moving rhythmically toward and away from it in long takes, highlighting the unease of a movie where nothing seems entirely solid, fixed, or stationary, particularly the truth. Paul Glass' similarly disjointed score sets Hitchcockian horror to Disneyland music: Aside from a few sudden musical stings and a superfluous mid-film appearance by The Zombies, it's eerily upbeat orchestral future-music suitable for a "World Of Tomorrow"-style theme-park ride.


Filming Locations

Art of the Title
posted by MoonOrb (4 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
wow this sounds like an amazing movie that I need to see!
posted by supermedusa at 1:30 PM on June 25, 2018

This does sound great! I just put both the book and the DVD on hold at my library. Thanks for posting!
posted by phunniemee at 5:01 AM on June 26, 2018

The trailer linked above seems to be a clip from the movie. I don't think this is the trailer either but it does give an overview of the plot and actors. I'd forgotten The Zombies were featured in one scene; I'd watch it again just for that.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 11:59 AM on June 26, 2018

This has been on my watchlist forever and it just so happens to be on On Demand right now. Now I have to watch it again, because while the end is telegraphed a bit -- aren't they all -- it approaches so subtly that I was delightfully surprised. I'll be curious if its plot is rewatchable or not, and I think it could go both ways or even be two separately entertaining plots. I really liked the setup where everybody is interrupting everybody else and displaying all kinds of abusive traits. Everybody!

Carol Lynley died a week ago.
posted by rhizome at 10:11 AM on September 13, 2019 [1 favorite]

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