In The Manipulators Adrian Wills is on surveillance duty watching a married couple to see if they would be suitable to join “Group D.” He is playing a series of manipulative tests on them (including strange phone calls and letters) to see if he can make them crack.
He is concerned that the couple, who also have a young baby, are on the verge of losing it and his contact, Irving, is pushing Adrian to make a decision about them.
There is a very unsettling atmosphere in this excellent episode, written and directed by Mike Hodges (the year after he made cult classic Get Carter). Not least the gut wrenching moment when you think the man has killed his baby.
There are numerous cuts to students watching psychological experiments and people at a typing school (of the couple Adrian is watching the man is attending the psychology lectures and the woman is attending the typing course). It feels like you’ve stumbled into a Jean Luc Goddard film at times.
In the end it is Wills himself who is being tested and the whole thing is a set up. Unfortunately for Wills he fails the test and is killed by Irving.
UK / ITV – London Weekend Television / 1×25 minute episode / Broadcast 28 July 1972
Writer and Director: Mike Hodges
Series: The Frighteners Episode 4 of 13
Bryan Marshall as Adrian Wills
Stanley Lebor as Irving Sokolsky
Brian Grellis as Marty Smith
David Sands as David Stanley
Kara Wilson as Pat Stanley
David Healey as Frank Mancha