Sophia Loren as Co-dependent Housewife

If you were making a film with Sophia Loren and wanted to find an unlikely match for her husband, someone who would drive her nuts by film’s end, and who has as much chemistry with her as a sink of dirty dishes, who would you cast?  Five Miles to Midnight, (Le couteau dans la plaie originally) on Netflix, as one of the rarities they throw in to compensate for the great ones that get away, gives one amazing answer: Anthony Perkins.  Perkins plays a neurotic, egocentric manipulating coward/bully who managed to wrap Sophia around his thumb in this 1962 oddity, directed by Anatole Litvak.  Loren has always been a very fine actress, with more talent for nuance than given credit for sometimes, and she works hard to act baffled, dependent, needy and insecure, muffling the guffaws that must have been just below the surface as Perkins does his Psycho schtick.  His charm quotient is close to minus thirty and his credibility as a character is secured only by the sense of familiarity we have (here we go again) from his previous roles, ones he never quite escapes, alas.  Loren and he seem to be struggling to get by in 1960s Paris but she manages to have a pretty spectacular wardrobe nonetheless, perhaps provided by the high-end clothing store where she works when she isn’t trying to placate the ever so thoroughly demented Perkins.  There’s a plane crash and an apparent death with life insurance money hanging in the balance too but seeing Sophia Loren try to act her way through this one is reward enough.

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