Recently watched: made-for-TV “woman in peril” thriller Silhouette (1990). Tagline: “She Saw Too Much for Her Own Good.” I’m using this period of enforced social isolation to explore the weirder corners of YouTube for long forgotten and obscure movies. (My boyfriend is accompanying me only semi-willingly).
Everyone’s favourite fearsome diva Faye Dunaway plays Samantha Kimball, a high-flying, elegant and shoulder-padded architect who becomes stranded in an isolated rural Texan hick town – and while there, observes a murder from her hotel room window! But no one believes her! (If Silhouette were made in the fifties, Samantha would totally be played by Joan Crawford or Barbara Stanwyck).
As far as schlock like this goes, Silhouette is made with a degree of flair and almost qualifies as “hicksploitation” (the sub-genre of exploitation / horror films where an urban sophisticate gets terrorized by hillbillies). Anyway, the camp high point is when La Dunaway visits the town’s redneck dive bar (partly to use the payphone – this was the era before mobile phones). She haughtily asks the bartender, “Can you make the perfect Rob Roy?” I love the look of incomprehension and contempt she gets back in response.
But for Dunaway connoisseurs, Silhouette is enjoyable for how “meta” it is: intentionally or not, it keeps referring to other (better) Dunaway films. Like when she orders the Rob Roy, it reminds me of Dunaway in Chinatown (1974) ordering a Tom Collins with the terse instructions “with lime, not lemon, please.” When Dunaway tries to piece together the murder, it cuts between violent flashbacks and extreme close-ups of her anguished face, just like in The Eyes of Laura Mars (1978). When we’re first introduced to Bonnie Parker in Bonnie & Clyde (1967), we see her framed by her bedroom window and we constantly see Dunaway looking out her hotel room window here. And some of Dunaway’s distraught line deliveries here inevitably evoke Mommie Dearest (1981).
In short: if you enjoy watching Faye Dunaway suffering extreme distress like only she can, Silhouette is the film for you!