End Play (1975)

Genres - Mystery, Thriller  |   Sub-Genres - Crime Thriller, Detective Film  |   Run Time - 110 min.  |   Countries - Australia   |   MPAA Rating - NR
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This clever Australian effort pays homage to Hitchcock in an understated and effective fashion. Tim Burstall's script, adapted from the novel by Russell Braddon, takes its time to craft an engaging story and the rich characterizations needed to drive it while carefully building a sense of tension that results in memorable climax packed with head-spinning twists. As a director, Burstall handles the story in a confident but subtle fashion, avoiding flashy camerawork or editing in favor of straightforward style that is effective precisely because it doesn't call attention to itself and thus allows the viewer to be drawn into the story and performances. That said, the finale shows some impressive camera placement and well-timed editing that displays Burstall's high level of skill with this material. Best of all, End Play has two impressive performances to drive its narrative: John Waters underplays his role effectively, creating someone whose motives are mysterious up until the last moment, while George Mallaby brings great intensity and charisma to his flashy role as the handicapped but still forceful Robert. In short, End Play is a compelling thriller that earns its thrills on the merits of strong, inventive storytelling. Fans of mysteries and thrillers are likely to find it very entertaining.