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I just saw the Sidney Poitier / Anne Bancroft movie The Slender Thread for the first time today. Too bad it wasn't shown in prime time, because it was a terrific suspense movie that had the added benefit of showing Poitier in a totally race-neutral role. (Although his race may have played into his demurral when he was asked if he wanted to meet Bancroft once she'd recovered.)


What also made this a movie to savor was that it was one that would be hopelessly anachronistic today. Just think: The entire plot of this 99 minute film centers around a coordinated effort by scores of public servants in Seattle to trace the phone number of a woman (Bancroft) who's called to a suicide hot line to tell a volunteer (Poitier) that she's swallowed a bottle of sleeping pills. Of course it would take about 10 seconds for the line to be traced today, which would kind of do away with the suspense!


In addition to Poitier and Bancroft, Steven Hill gives a chilling and highly credible performance as the unforgiving husband who's driven Bancroft to her suicide attempt. He's such a creepy character that he makes us almost want to force him to swallow those pills instead, and that's a sign that he plays the part to perfection.

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Not really, because the suspense in The Slender Thread derived from the fact that her call COULD be traced, but it needed the suicide Hot line office, the huge telephone company building with countless thousands of connecting plugs and wires that had to be narrowed down, plus the police and fire departments and the State Department of Motor Vehicles, in order to locate the caller's number and where she was calling from. It was like a giant public works department that gave employment to pretty much every proactive player we see in the movie. Using a prepaid cell phone that was hard to trace (though not impossible) would keep the suspense, but everything else about the film would have to be changed dramatically.

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Yep, you're right, Andy. Any remake made of this flick today would most likely have to be updated so that it would be believable to the 16-34 year old movie-going audiences of today.


And so might suggest it would start with the shrink and his crew gettin' a text on their cellphones that reads somethin' like:


"i wanna die n so ive jus taken a bunch a pills try n find me if u can"


(...and that's when the action starts!) ;)

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