Peeping Tom (1960) is a psychological thriller starring Carl Boehm as a psychopath who films his victims as they die. The movie was critically panned when it was released and it destroyed famed director Michael Powell’s career. Decades later it has finally been recognized as the masterpiece of suspense that it is.
Michael Powell was one of England’s most respected directors. His partnership with writer Emeric Pressburger produced such classic pieces of cinema as The Red Shoes, Tales of Hoffman and Black Narcissus from 1943 to 1957. By 1960 Powell was working alone. When Peeping Tom was released – critics and audiences complained about the movie’s sexual themes and violence. The film contained Britain’s first female nude scene and as tame as it is, naturally people complained. Powell had trouble making movies afterward and never again reached the success he once had.
Peeping Tom had a rebirth in the 1970’s when several critics and filmmakers reevaluated the film. One of the films supporters, Martin Scorsese, funded the movies re-release back into theatres in 1978.
The story has young Carl Boehm murdering women while filming their reactions with his camera. Boehm works at a movie studio and moonlights as a photographer taking sleazy pictures that are sold under the counter at a local store. Boehm’s downstairs neighbours are a blind woman and her young daughter who is attracted to Boehm. As Boehm continues his murder spree, the police are beginning to become suspicious.