Cinema: Homicidal Holiday

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The Lady in the Car with Glasses and a Gun is Samantha Eggar, who takes her boss's car on an impromptu holiday drive in the south of France and gets herself involved en route in an increasingly perplexing and complex series of sinister incidents. Is she going mad? Was she already mad? Is she being used for some nefarious purpose?

The movie is one of those carefully jumbled jigsaw puzzles and comes complete with a rushed, not totally satisfactory explanation at the end.

Films like this defy reasonable synopsis, since detailed descriptions always shatter the suspense. Suffice it to say that The Lady's basic premise—wherein the heroine finds herself retracing a journey she has never taken and being recognized by people she has never met—is a theme with only a limited number of possible explanations. Alert mystery fans will probably come up with a solution about halfway through the film. Other members of the audience will be lulled into a pleasant state of mild befuddlement, induced by some snazzy film cutting, Claude Renoir's lush color photography and the extravagant scenery. The latter includes Miss Eggar, who is coming along nicely with her acting too.

Oliver Reed, looking like a well-dressed rain barrel, does not do much, but he is appallingly convincing at scenes involving mayhem and sadism. The script, by Richard Harris and Eleanor Perry, is proficient, and the direction by Anatole Litvak, a kind of Preminger without pizzaz, gets the job done. So does The Lady, if you have an empty evening that requires nothing more than passive entertainment.