Movie: Moment to Moment (1966)

They broke the mold in 1955 after Henri-Georges Clouzot made Diabolique.  In 1966, they took the few pieces of the mold they could find, crudely taped them back together and made Moment to Moment.

This is a thriller without thrills.  At least half of it is little more than a filmed stage play taking place predominately on one set.  The remainder is a travelogue of France accomplished largely via rear projection and bluescreen.  At least, I assume they had bluescreen technology back then and used it here, because people’s heads have a weird, ethereal blue glow to them in a couple of close-ups.

One aspect of this I found interesting is the actors whose names are above the title are both women.  Jean Seberg plays an American woman tending house in France with her son while her psychiatrist husband is away at various conferences around Europe.  She’s not looking to play around, but she will meet an American sailor (Sean Garrison) and have a dalliance with him, regardless.

Honor Blackman is her next-door neighbor, a Brit expat who is a port for many visiting servicemen.  She so wants her neighbor to get her freak on with Garrison that she might as well gift them a dozen oysters and box of condoms.

Early on in the film, Seberg finds a small handgun belonging to her housekeeper, even though she has expressly forbidden one be brought into her home.  With the help of Garrison, she secures Chekhov’s gun in a jar on a high shelf.

It isn’t a surprise when Seberg and Garrison eventually do the horizontal mambo.  Following that, there’s only two directions the plot can move in: either she refuses to let him go or she feels remorse and decides to ends things there.  Either way, he’s going to get shot.

Now here is where the script performs what is thinks is a sly bit of subterfuge.  If you think you’re going to see this picture (though I have no idea why you would), you should stop reading now.

The police immediately suspect Seberg of having shot Garrison.  They probably even suspect, correctly, that Blackman helped her toss the body in a ditch off a road some distance away.

But the idiot plot element of this is the police let them, and us, think Garrison is dead, except he isn’t.  There’s no reason for this ruse.  Once Garrison has recovered from his wounds, the suspicious police inspector makes sure Seberg’s recently returned husband help the man recover from the amnesia that wiped out all memory of all the time he spent ashore, including any recollections of her.  This is a plot that operates at the level of soap opera.  Also, it’s rather cruel Garrison got to tap that and has no memory of it.  Well, not immediately–Seberg’s husband will bring back all memories the guy lost.

A recurring element throughout the film is a game different characters play where you take turns building a tower out of differently shaped wooden blocks.  In a laughably ham-fisted metaphor, the piece missing from the game is the heart-shaped one.  As if that isn’t bad enough, a character at the end spells out the significance of this explicitly.

Moment to Moment is co-written by the author of the screenplay for Vertigo, adapted from a short story of his.  I wouldn’t have known that without reading the back of the blu-ray case, but now it seems telling the very first shot is of a bell tower on a Spanish-tiled roof.  Somehow that seems appropriate for a movie that does nothing more than remind me of similar movies that are better than this one.

Dir: Mervyn LeRoy

Starring Jean Seberg, Honor Blackman, Sean Garrison

Watched on Kino Lorber blu-ray