Twisted Nerve (1968) starring Hayley Mills, Hywel Bennett, Billie Whitelaw, Phyllis Calvert, Barry Foster directed by Roy Boulting - movie review on The Movie Scene

Twisted Nerve (1968)   4/54/54/54/54/5


Hayley Mills in Twisted Nerve (1968)

Kill Harry and Then ...

Martin (Hywel Bennett) lives with his molly coddling mother Enid (Phyllis Calvert) and his bullying stepfather Henry (Frank Finlay), whilst his brother who was born with Down Syndrome has been abandoned in a special school and is only ever visited by Martin who goes to play ball with him. But Martin is not entirely normal himself as he suffers from a split personality which frequently sees him become Georgie, a man with the mentality of a 6 year old. It is through this other side of his personality that he comes to meet the sweet Susan (Hayley Mills), a student and part-time librarian who takes pity on him when he is caught shoplifting a toy rubber duck and pays for it to get him off. Having had enough Henry kicks Martin out which leads him to move in to the boarding home run by Susan's mum Joan (Billie Whitelaw). The question is, does Martin really have a split personality or is he extremely clever and plans on making those he dislikes pay?

I can guarantee that any movie fan who stumbles across "Twisted Nerve" will have the same reaction as this was the movie which used the whistling theme which Quentin Tarantino would go on to use in "Kill Bill: Vol. 1". And it is as fantastic as ever, hauntingly beautiful, creepy, powerful and so much more. And trust me it works brilliantly well when it comes to this fascinating story of a young man and the people around him.

Hywel Bennett in Twisted Nerve (1968)

Now "Twisted Nerve" is one of those movies which you need to experience because it is the full package which makes it work. That full package starts with Hywel Bennett who delivers this wonderful split personality performance, full of boyish innocence as Georgie but with an evil stare when he is Martin. And he switches so brilliantly between them that he makes you wonder whether he has a split personality or is in fact exceptionally cunning and has some hidden agenda. It is that hidden agenda aspect which of course is the draw because we wonder what he could be planning as he is certainly devious when it comes to covering his tracks.

But then around Hywel there is a plethora of enjoyable performances with Hayley Mills delivering yet another sweet and sexy performance which with some subtle sexual innuendo in the dialogue certainly makes this attention grabbing. But it is the same elsewhere with Billie Whitelaw also delivering a subtly sexual performance with a conflict over this handsome young man in her home who acts like a young child and even calls her mummy at one point. It should be mentioned that some of the characters may offend modern audiences as there are various references and attitudes on show which today are politically incorrect.

And there is more as "Twisted Nerve" is a Bouting Brothers movie and as such every scene is beautifully crafted from the way a camera slides under the stairs to how the light reflects off of a pair of scissors. It means that "Twisted Nerve" is just as likely to entertain those who like to study movies as it will for those seeking entertainment.

What this all boils down to is that "Twisted Nerve" is still a fantastic movie, a fantastic character study with great performances all round, especially from Hywel Bennett who when combined with that whistling theme tune becomes sensationally ominous.


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