Featuring Sal Mineo, Jan Murray, Juliet Prowse, Elaine Stritch
There is cult cinema and there is underground cinema and then there is Who Killed Teddy Bear. Made in 1965 but seldom seen since, this seething mass of psycho-sexual- thriller-campness is released on DVD for the first time anywhere in the world this month by Network.
Shot in stark black and white and made just at a time when the boundaries for censorship in cinema WKTB was clearly intent on busting the doors wide open, the British Board of Film Classification disagreed and refused the movie a certificate. With Sal Mineo in the lead, the movie is a kind of cousin to Michael Powell’s oppressive Peeping Tom as it follows a police detective (comedian Jan Murray) out to catch a wannabe sex attacker who is stalking New York DJ Norah (Juliet Prowse).
We know who the stalker is right from the start though, Sal Mineo’s body-building obsessed bus boy Lawrence, in fact the camera spends as much time prowling over Mineo’s body as he does over Norah! WKTB is a staggering film, one that carries clear influences for a whole generation of 70’s horror/thriller directors, director Joseph Cates would surely have a wider known reputation were it not for the certification problems the film suffered. The real gem here though is the camera work of cinematographer Joseph Brun who makes the seedy side of New York as prominent a player in the movie as the cast themselves with long lingering pans through the adult bookstores and dance halls of Times Square and beyond. Watch out too for a role as a lesbian club owner for famed comedienne Elaine Stritch.
As is usual with Network, the extras are great too, a full episode of 1960’s wartime drama Court Martial called The House Where He Lived – this features Sal Mineo in a guest starring role; There is also a pretty funny public service film from 1967 about the dangers of LSD (with narration by Mineo). There is also the original trailer and a gallery of images.
Definitely a case of once seen never forgotten.