This outlandish, clouded variation on mystery and suspense is based on an Ellery Queen tale. Divided into 10 days, the story focuses on the wealthy Van Horns--the patriarch Welles, his wife Jobert, and his adopted son, Perkins--and their interaction with Perkins' mentor and former
philosophy professor, Piccoli. After one of Perkins' amnesiac blackouts, he awakens with blood-covered hands and summons Piccoli. He persuades Piccoli to stay as a guest on the Van Horn estate just in case he has any more blackouts. Before long Jobert and Perkins admit to Piccoli that they are
lovers being blackmailed by someone who has confiscated their love letters. Perkins steals $25,000 from Welles's safe so he can pay off the unknown blackmailer, who a couple of days later again asks for money--this time for the photocopies of the letters. Meanwhile Welles tells the story of how
Perkins' parents were struck by lightning and put to rest in a nearby cemetery. Perkins snaps into a crazed state and the following day drives to the cemetery and violates the gravesite. Not surprisingly, Piccoli packs his bags and leaves the Van Horn estate. On his return trip to Paris, however,
he has a vision of what Perkins is trying to do--break each one of the Ten Commandments. Piccoli telephones Welles and warns him that Perkins may try to murder him--"Thou shalt not kill" is the only remaining Commandment. Piccoli is wrong, however, as Perkins kills Jobert. In a rage Perkins then
destroys his collection of godlike statues, all of them resembling Welles, and jumps from his window. His gruesome death has him impaled on the iron gate below. Piccoli then hands Welles a gun, and in a CITIZEN KANE-style ending, the lights in Welles's room go dim as he kills himself.
The thing to wonder most about in TEN DAYS' WONDER is just what the heck is going on. The film is filled with obscurities (which only diehard Chabrol fans will bother with) such as the Van Horns all dressing in fashions from 1925. Also, why does Perkins have godlike statues resembling Welles, and
why does Perkins seem more deranged (and as a result downright silly) in this film than in PSYCHO and FEAR STRIKES OUT combined? And, in a question which stumped practically all reviewers, why does Welles's nose appear to be grey? Undoubtedly many academic answers exist to explain the film's
baroque allusions to Christianity and the Oedipus complex, but none of them can answer why the film plods along as it does. The performances are wholly cliched, the plot is unredeemably muddled, and to top it off the English-language dubbing is incompetent.
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- Released: 1972
- Rating: PG
- Review: This outlandish, clouded variation on mystery and suspense is based on an Ellery Queen tale. Divided into 10 days, the story focuses on the wealthy Van Horns--the patriarch Welles, his wife Jobert, and his adopted son, Perkins--and their interaction with P… (more)