Plot: Dr. Jeffries (Anthony Perkins) is a man who lives for his work, which means his personal life often suffers. A neurosurgeon, Jeffries is consumed by the field and how the human mind works, so the hours are long and even when he isn’t at work, he tends to behave as if he were. This has caused some issues with his wife Frances (Jill Ireland), who has put up with his workaholic ways in the past, but is tired of being neglected in favor of his work. So she has sought out attention and affection outside of her marriage, in the arms of a new lover. This infuriates Jeffries, who wants retribution for the unfaithful acts, so he begins to plot how he can get some revenge, while not being held responsible. A recent patient of his is a man with severe amnesia (Charles Bronson), so Jeffries tries to plant the idea that Frances is the man’s wife, then push him to settle the score with her new lover.
Entertainment Value: This thriller has a good cast and an interesting narrative, one that might ask us to suspend more disbelief than usual, but delivers a tense experience in return. The tone here is serious, but there is real b movie value present also, with the dialed up performances and outlandish plot movement. Someone Behind the Door tasks us to swallow a lot of logic gaps, especially in regard to Bronson’s character asking few if any questions. This leads to some ridiculous moments, as he just does what he is told and while Anthony Perkins plays a brilliant doctor, he also radiates shadiness, to the point even an amnesiac could pick up the vibes. So there is some unintentional humor or groan inducing moments in the plot, depending on how you view such things. The pace is on the slow burn side, but seems even slower because of the mostly one location shoot, which is a further limit. I wouldn’t say the movie feels like a stage production, but it is close to that. I think the cast is the main reason Someone Behind the Door works as well as it does, but even then, I wasn’t bowled over. But fans of Bronson or Perkins should find some entertainment out of this odd thriller, while b movie devotees might appreciate the more offbeat elements.
I was drawn to this one because of Charles Bronson, because of course, I need to see every movie this legend was involved with. His role is an atypical one, especially if you’re only familiar with his later, stoic performances, as he is able to flex his acting chops a little at times. Bronson still has that tough guy persona here, but as his character relies on the doctor for basic things, it gives him a kind of vulnerability we don’t see often from his work. I think Bronson gets a bad rap since his screen presence often carries his performances, which is often taken as limited range and that isn’t always the case in his career. Someone Behind the Door shows that while Bronson was no Marlon Brando, he could rise to a challenge when called on. Anthony Perkins on the hand is over the top and sometimes even hilarious as the manic, obsessed doctor, in a role that b movie fans should have fun with. Bronson and Perkins have an odd, but interesting chemistry as well. The cast also includes Jill Ireland, while Nicolas Gessner served as the film’s director.