Thursday, July 7, 2016

Molestor* (for Molester*)

The Mark, released in 1961, is a strangely shocking yet singularly sympathetic film about pedophilia. It was directed by Guy Green (A Patch of Blue), and tells the story of a would-be child molester who, by way of group therapy in prison and a warm relationship with his psychiatrist (Rod Steiger), overcomes his abnormal and potentially criminal urges and finds some measure of happiness with a very understanding coworker (Maria Schell). Although the story is set in England (and the book it was based on in the United States), the movie was actually shot in Ireland, due to its controversial subject matter. (I'm not sure why Ireland wasn't equally, or even more, put off by it, but apparently it wasn't.) Unlike Lolita (in Stanley Kubrick's 1962 film adaptation), the "child" here is not a teenager, but rather a ten-year-old little girl. The Mark pulls no punches, but Jim Fuller (played by Stuart Whitman) does manage to pull himself back from the brink after buying ice cream cones for a couple of trusting moppets and then somehow getting one of them into his car. He drives for several miles, suddenly pulls over, gets out and vomits, and then turns around and takes the kid back home. But by that time it's too late and he ends up serving a three-year jail sentence. The film depicts how this type of crime can haunt one in a multitude of ways and for many years. Some would argue that Whitman himself suffered professionally due to his association with The Mark, despite having received an Oscar nomination for his performance. We found two hits on today's typo in OhioLINK, and 32 in WorldCat.

(Poster for The Mark, 1961, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

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