Cinema: Telephone Tie-Up

The Slender Thread. At the Crisis Clinic, a suicide-prevention center in Seattle, a student volunteer (Sidney Poitier) embarks upon a life-or-death telephone conversation with an unhappy young matron (Anne Bancroft) who has locked herself in a motel room and taken an overdose of barbiturates. "What happened?" he asks. "Nothing, really," she answers helplessly. "I just didn't have anything to do."

These casual words ought to open the way for a stirring semi-documentary about the impulsive, unpredictable nature of suicide. Unfortunately, Thread does not follow through on its inspiration—a vivid 1964 LIFE article in which Shana Alexander described the psychological crisis that...

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