Tallulah Bankhead — in her last movie — absolutely owns every scene she’s in here, playing Mrs. Trefoile,the mother of Patricia Carroll’s (Stefanie Powers) deceased fiance. As she comes to London, Patricia decides to get closure by visiting the old woman. Yet within a few scenes, she’s now a captive of the hysterically religious woman and is due to be exorcised.
Trefoile also has three servants — Harry (Peter Vaughan), Anna (Yootha Joyce) and Joseph (Donald Sutherland) — who are keeping our heroine away from the rest of the world, hiding her from her fiancee Alan Glentower (Maurice Kaufmann).
Also known as Fanatic**, this is a strong entry in the psychobiddy genre that has Richard Matheson adapting Anne Blaisdell’s novel Nightmare*. It was directed by Silvio Narizzano, who also made the Dennis Hopper and Carroll Baker movie Bloodbath and Georgy Girl.
Nearly fifty years after making this movie, Stefanie Powers acted in Looped, a play based on a true story about Bankhead being inebriated and unable to loop the line, “Die! Die my darling!” for this film. The role was originated by Valerie Harper, who was nominated for a Tony Award for her performancem despite the play closing after 33 performances. Harper played the role on the road until become sick with brain cancer.
*One of the many names of Elizabeth Linington, who also wrote under her real name and the alter egos Lesley Egan, Egan O’Neill and Dell Shannon.
**Bankhead sued Columbia Pictures when they retitled this for U.S. theaters.