The Tie That Binds – Rediscovering ‘Mousey’ (US/UK 1974 – 86 mins)

Posted in Rediscover by - January 26, 2015
The Tie That Binds – Rediscovering ‘Mousey’ (US/UK 1974 – 86 mins)

Also known as ‘Cat and Mouse’, the under-rated and engrossing thriller ‘Mousey’ is a little-known suspenser that, due probably to its television origins, fell off the radar after its short theatrical run.

Quiet, unassuming school teacher George Anderson (Kirk Douglas) who’s nicknamed ‘Mousey’ by his taunting students, arrives home to find his young wife Laura (Jean Seberg) and her son have left him. Although the boy was not his, George saw him as his son and is understandably distraught at Laura’s actions. Quitting his teaching job, the unstable George heads off to the big city, razor in hand and hell bent on revenge!

Originally a made-for-TV movie, ‘Mousey’ was released into UK cinema’s on a double-bill with the weak Freddie Francis feature ‘Craze’ (’74), which starred Jack Palance as a demented antiques dealer.

A quiet and be-speckled Kirk Douglas is excellent as George, and in some ways the role is akin to his son Michael’s, in the similar ‘man pushed to the edge’ drama ‘Falling Down’ (’93). It’s a good creepy performance and Douglas is not afraid to show George’s full range of emotions. In one of her better productions at the time, Jean Seberg is suitably worried-looking as Laura, and John Vernon has a rare non-villainous role as the new man in Seberg’s life. Sam Wanamaker makes a good police inspector and the multi-talented Beth Porter had one of her best roles as Kirk’s unfortunate knife victim.

Canadian director Daniel Petrie also made the excellent ‘Buster and Billie’ the same year, and later directed the superb fantasy-tinged drama ‘Resurrection’ (’80), and the entertaining family drama ‘Rocket Gibraltar’ (’88). Expert thriller writer John Peacock wrote the solid screenplay, and the fitting score was by Ron Grainer who had earlier written the memorable themes for cult TV shows ‘Doctor Who’ and ‘Steptoe & Son’.

There is a fairly shocking scene where Kirk slashes the throat of a kind woman who has let him into her flat for some first aid. It seemed a bit too out of character for this broken man to kill an innocent stranger, but makes the viewer aware of what he is now capable of, especially during the movies tense-filled final act. There is a fun twist which was also used in ‘Black Christmas’ the same year, and was put to memorable use again in ‘When a Stranger Calls’ (’79) five years later.

A short and gripping thriller; ‘Mousey’ is well acted and filled with a menacing air of tension. With a terrific central performance from Kirk Douglas, you know you have a crazed character when John Vernon isn’t the unstable one in the picture!

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