The Mark (1961)

Genres - Drama  |   Sub-Genres - Crime Drama, Psychological Drama  |   Run Time - 127 min.  |   Countries - UK  |  
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Quite controversial upon its release, The Mark is a now largely-forgotten social issues drama that deserves wider recognition among modern viewers. Mark is far from a perfect movie, or even from being one of the best of the social issues genre, but it is a very worthy film that features some exceptionally strong performances and generates thought provoking conversation. On one level, the film takes the easy way out: the main character is not an actual child molester (as he is in the novel upon which the film is based), but a man who stops himself just before acting upon his impulses and turns himself in to the police. This crucial difference makes it easier for the audience to sympathize with him, although the very fact that the character has these desires and must control them still causes considerable discomfort. Charles Israel and Stanley Mann's screenplay avoids sensationalism and tries to take an even-handed look at the situation it presents, even if it inevitably oversimplifies a very complex issue. Guy Green's direction is excellent, very subdued and willing to quietly delve; some may find it a bit too slow and lacking in drama, but Green's careful, precise work is exactly what the material demands. He benefits from his trio of leading characters, lead by Stuart Whitman's outstanding performance as the tormented and troubled protagonist. It's a wonderfully calibrated performance that doesn't make any wrong moves and that creates considerable sympathy without whitewashing. Maria Schell is also excellent as the woman Whitman comes to love, and Rod Steiger's turn as the psychiatrist, while a bit mannered, is also one of the film's finest assets. Those not afraid of squirming a bit at a film's subject matter should seek out The Mark.