Caftan Woman

Caftan Woman

Saturday, February 18, 2017

90 YEARS OF SIDNEY POITIER BLOGATHON: The Slender Thread (1965)


Virginie at The Wonderful World of Cinema is hosting this blogathon in celebration of the 90th birthday of Sidney Poitier. The blogathon runs from February 18 - 20. Click HERE to join the party.


The Slender Thread was written by Stirling Silliphant (In the Heat of the Night, TVs Route 66, Naked City) based on a magazine article by Shana Alexander. Silliphant was nominated for a Golden Globe for Best screenplay for this involving drama. The film was director Sidney Pollack's first feature after years of television films and episodes.  Its stars, Sidney Poitier and Anne Bancroft, were recent winners of Academy Awards for Lilies of the Field and The Miracle Worker, respectively.



Sidney Poitier

Sidney Poitier portrays Alan Newell, a university student volunteering one night a week at a crisis centre. On the night we meet him Alan is manning the centre on his own while the boss, Dr. Coburn played by Telly Savalas (Kojak), takes some down time.  It is on this night that Alan crosses paths with Inga Dyson.



Anne Bancroft

Anne Bancroft plays Inga, a 30-year-old married mother of a 12 year old son. A past long buried and forgotten has caught up with her and is tearing her marriage to pieces. Steven Hill (Law and Order) plays Mark, Inga's estranged husband. There are days when our problems overwhelm us, when we can see nothing ahead but unhappiness. This is such a day for Inga. She needs someone to talk to, but she doesn't seek that someone until after she has swallowed a bottle full of pills. That someone is Alan and the race is on to save the woman at the end of the phone line who has so much to live for.

The resources of the telephone company are deployed for tracing the call which proves more problematic than expected. Police, including an off duty detective with no home life played by Ed Asner (Lou Grant) joins uniformed patrol on the search. Alan is more that willing to turn the phone over to his boss as the pressure of the case wears on him. However, he has established a rapport with Inga and the importance of the relationship they are forming is paramount. Alan must learn to trust his instincts in this nerve-wracked night.



Sidney Poitier, Telly Savalas, Indus Arthur

"Look, Inga. Please get this straight. I'm up to my ears in lessons I've been taught long before I picked up this phone tonight. I've been taught, so lessons I don't need, you understand? Good people I do. You watch the walls close in on you. Me too. You've been ignored or studied out of the corners of people's eyes. Me too. You've been suffered and tolerated. Me too. Okay. Times are bad. Things stink. The world is a cinder in your eye, but what is the alternative? Now I ask you, Inga, what in god's name is the alternative? Every time I breathe, every breath I take, every gulp, it's like it's got bubbles in it - it's heady. Now why can't you reach out and hang on to me, feel what I feel? Why can't you come into my world?"

We follow the story from the tense atmosphere in the crisis centre office to Inga's memories of what brought her to this fateful night. We see her as a sad and introspective woman at the Seattle Center, at her suburban home, at the beach where she first attempts suicide, the hospital, a church and a discotheque.

Our two leading characters never meet in this story, but the connection established by the actors with their distinctive voices and emotionally fine-tuned performances keep us caring for them.  Reminiscent of the great television dramas of the 1950s, The Slender Thread is a fine showcase for Poitier and Bancroft, as well as an impressive movie debut for Pollack.


PS: If the girl at the switchboard looks familiar, it is Charlotte Stewart (My Three Sons, Little House on the Prairie).











12 comments:

  1. It's movies like this that keep making me want to reconsider my reluctance to sign on for Netflix. Nice review.

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    1. That sign-up just might be worth it. When you dig into somebody's filmography, like a Pollack or Poitier, you can find treasures.

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  2. Wow, this sounds tense and very interesting! I was not familiar with this film until you wrote about it, but am very interested in seeing more of Anne Bancroft, as well as Sidney Poitier. It is interesting how their voices are so important in the film, too.

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    1. It is a fine drama, but also the filming and the location shooting add that something extra. I don't believe I mentioned the Quincy Jones score!

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  3. Sounds like it'd work well as a play too.

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    1. I think you are right. It would be a very involving night at the theatre and a couple of terrific roles for the right actors.

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  4. I haven't seen this film yet, but your reviews really makes me want to! I think it's pretty interesting that the two main characters never met! And I love both Sidney Poitier and Anne Bancroft. Excellent job and thanks again for your participation! :)

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    1. My pleasure. Thank you for hosting this tribute to Sidney Poitier.

      I am sure you will find The Slender Thread worth your time. I find the performances quite memorable.

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  5. I've not seen this one, but what an interesting premise. I imagine carrying the primary relationship without ever meeting face to face would challenge any actor. Of course, these two are no doubt up to it!

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    1. Bancroft and Poitier are more than up to the job, and fascinating to watch. It is an excellent film.

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  6. I love, LOVE this film and find it hard to believe it's not more well known. It's been a few years since I've seen it, but your observations have made it seem fresh.

    Here's to you for featuring it on your website and introducing it to others. *Clink!*

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    1. Thanks for the toast.

      I agree. It is the sort of film that, if others knew it, they would be raving about it.

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