That Cold Day in the Park (1969) Other movies recommended for you
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Plot: Robert Altman's sadly neglected film that, along with his later "Images", fits into the unconventional psycho-thriller mold. A bizarre story with Sandy Dennis as a spinster who takes in a handsome young man (Michael Burns) who is pretending to be mute. She imprisons the boy and supplies his every… Runtime: 113 min Release Date: 08 Jun 1969
This film requires a lot of patience. Because it focuses on mood and character development, the plot is very simple and many of the scenes take place on the same set - in Frances Austen's the Sandy Dennis character apartment. But the film builds to a disturbing climax. The characters create an atmosphere rife with sexual tension and psychological trickery. It's very interesting that Robert Altman directed this, considering the style and structure of his other films. Still, the trademark Altman audio style is evident here and there. I think what really makes this film work is the <more>
brilliant performance by Sandy Dennis. It's definitely one of her darker characters, but she plays it so perfectly and convincingly that it's scary. Michael Burns does a good job as the "mute" young man. Regular Altman player Michael Murphy has a small part. The solemn, moody set fits the content of the story very well. In short, this movie is a powerful study of loneliness, sexual repression, and desperation. Be patient, soak up the atmosphere, and pay attention to the wonderfully written script.I praise Robert Altman. This is one of his many films that deals with unconventional, fascinating subject matter. This film is disturbing, but it's sincere and it's sure to elicit a strong emotional response from the viewer. If you want to see an unusual film - some might even say bizarre - this is worth the time.Unfortunately, it's very difficult to find in video stores. You may have to buy it off the internet.
First of all, let me say this film isn't for everyone. It has a very strange subject matter. A spinster living alone and living a boring life discovers a young man in a park just across the street from her townhouse. She notices him sitting out in the rain and invites him in to dry off & warm up. The man does not speak and the woman assumes he is deaf mute. Still, she is fascinated with him and sexually interested in him. He finds her odd and continues his silence although we find out later that he isn't mute at all and that he reports to his sister everything that is going on <more>
between him & the woman. I won't give away the rest of the plot. If you can find this film watch it. You cannot take your eyes off of it. What makes it so interesting? Well, it is totally unique. I've never seen anything like it and watching these two together is very uncomfortable. Especially when you find out what this bland, boring, obsessive spinster is capable of. You won't forget it soon.
Suppressed emotions explode on screen in this early Robert Altman Classic (by sol1218)
***SPOILERS*** Feeling alone and needing companionship as well as love Frances Austen, Sandy Dennis, keeps all these emotions inside as she goes through life as a popular young single lady who has many high class friends. But for reasons of her own deep insecurity she keeps them at arms length. As for Frances male friends non are anywhere near her age so that she won't have any reason to have any romantic involvement with them. One early evening as Frances was entertaining some of her friends she spots outside her apartment window a young man, Michael Burns, sitting alone in the cold <more>
pouring rain. Feeling that he's homeless and alone after her friends leave Frances goes outside to the park and offers the young man shelter at her place until the rain subsides and even to stay over for the night at a guest bedroom that she has. You can see right away that Frances is more interested in just having the young mans safely out of the cold and rain then she wants to have him as a friend lover or even play-toy all for herself and as the movie progresses you see that you were right. A really amazing performance by Sandy Dennis that in a way is very much like that of Kathy Bates' Academy Award performance in the movie "Misery" that was made in 1990 some twenty one years later. Frances thinking that the young man was alone and homeless and, later when she meets him, mute sees the perfect person for her to have as a true friend. He's in no way her equal or better then her like the friends that she has, doctors lawyers Indian chiefs, and thus is totally dependent on her. It later turns out that the young man is not the lonely and homeless person that Frances thought that he is. It's when she slowly finds out that he really doesn't need her as well as him manipulating her instead the other way around it sets off something in Frances' mind that turns out to be a compulsion of murderous proportions. A really weird film by director Robert Altman that goes deep into the depths of loneliness and depression of the human mind. Actress Sandy Dennis is perfect as the Dr. Jekyll and Miss. Hyde personality in her acting as the lonely but at the same time dangerous Frances Austen and it's a pity that not only didn't she get an Academy Award for her role in the film but wasn't even nominated for it. Like most Robert Altman movies there seems to be a lot of improvisation among the actors in the movie and ad lib dialog especially between the young man's sister Nina, Susanne Benton, and her boyfriend Nick, David Garfield. The only thing in the movie that I found confusing is when we see Frances go to a city clinic to have a full gynecological exam and tells the doctor that she expects to get married very soon. Was her husband to be the young man staying at her apartment? But besides that the movie sticks to the story pretty well and the ending is a real shock to the audience as well as the young man. When he finally, in the end, realizes that Frances is not only a bit off-the-wall but murderously insane as well.
Sandy Dennis gives a spellbinding performance. (by Auteur-2)
This is another of Robert Altman's underrated films let's be honest, the only movie he's made that really didn't work was Ready to Wear , and Sandy Dennis gives a spellbinding performance in it.She is far better here than she was in "The Out of Towners". The material, I will admit, is beneath the great director Altman and the extraordinary actress Dennis, but that hardly matters anyway.As long as there allowed to do their thing and do it well, just about any story will do.
A never mentioned fact (by MOSSBIE)
What I find remarkable about this terrific film, is that Altman, the crazy and wild guy that he is, took the novel THAT COLD DAY IN THE PARK and the Sandy Dennis character was originally a male in the book. He was a mentally whacked out isolated gay who looked out of his apartment window when he spotted the hustler. It is strange that Altman fans aren't aware of how clever he was to change the sex of the main character; thereby avoiding the homo erotic taboos of gay life in the 60's and actually making Dennis' reclusive kind of madness work even better in the transposition.If you <more>
see the film again, it will be evident how wily the Altman mind works...
I would have given this more stars but for the contrived ending that sort of ruined the whole thing for me. Up until that point, I was seriously considering this work to be the equal of any work by Ingmar Bergman. Despite the corny ending, I still think that Sandy Dennis was easily the equivalent of Liv Ullman or Isabelle Hupert. It's shame that she died when she did, and I don't think she ever really received the accolades that she was due. Of course there was her work in "Who's Afraid of Virginia Wolff", in which she played a supporting role, and lighter fare such as <more>
"The Out of Towners", but one viewing of "That Cold Day in the Park" should be enough to convince any discerning viewer that Sandy Dennis was a great talent that was taken away far too soon.
Undervalued early Altman now out on DVD/Blu Ray (by zetes)
Robert Altman didn't hit the big time until MASH in 1970. Most of his work prior to that was on television, though he did make a small handful of theatrical films. That Cold Day in the Park came the year before MASH. Sandy Dennis stars as a lonely socialite who spies a young man Michael Burns sitting on a park bench across the street. Presumably, he's homeless - he stays there even in the freezing rain. She invites him in to dry off. He seems to be a mute. The mystery behind him is intriguing, but, surprisingly quickly, it's dismissed as his secrets are revealed and are fairly <more>
banal. At first, I was disappointed. Soon, though, it becomes apparent that the audience's expectations about how this plot will develop are subverted. This film has kind of a middling reputation, but, while I wouldn't call it one of his absolute best, I don't think it should be ignored among Altman's oeuvre. His signature style may not have come until MASH - though the sequence at the women's clinic definitely is a precursor - but he would revisit similar story lines later on, most notably in Images, another of his most undervalued films. Anyone who's a fan of Sandy Dennis ought to check it out. She's fantastic in it. Olive Films has given That Cold Day in the Park a long overdue DVD/Blu Ray release it's not the best looking Blu Ray I've ever seen, but it's more than acceptable . If you don't want to spend the money, there's also a decent-looking VHS rip on Youtube.