Sunday, February 14, 2016
'Pressure Point' BD: Lost Poitier Classic on Racism Marks Black History Month
Awesomely recently discovered DVD and Blu-ray company Olive Films further earns its cred. as a purveyor of some of the best films that you remember from your youth and proverbial new classic favorites with the February 16, 2016 Blu-ray release of the 1962 drama "Pressure Point." This film stars Sidney Poitier, who is the first black man to win a Best Actor Oscar, as a psychiatrist who counsels a fellow present-day psychiatrist whom Peter Falk of "Columbo" fame portrays. Identifying the Poitier character as "Doctor" and the Falk character as "young psychiatrist" symbolizes the universal nature of the race-related message in the film.
"Hollywood royalty" producer/director Stanley Kramer, whose numerous actual and "shouldabeena" classics includes the 1967 Poitier film "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner," wisely films "Pressure" in black-and-white to highlight the contrasts and the drama that contribute a great deal to the power (and moderate "Twilight Zone" vibe) of the film. This cinematography looks terrific in Blu-ray.
The opening scene has a highly frustrated young psychiatrist coming to the office of Doctor related to a black patient who is uncooperative because psychiatrist is white. Psychiatrist being on the verge of quitting prompts Doctor to tell (via flashbacks) of his own frustration as a rookie prison therapist with a similar problem with Patient.
Much of the film consists of sessions in which Doctor tries to get to the root (no pun intended) of the problems of Patient, who is fighting him at every step. The artistically surreal flashbacks of the childhood of Patient reveal the true nature of his challenges. Having future "Barney Miller" spin-off "Fish" and "All in the Family" spin-off "Archie Bunker's Place" star Barry Gordon playing Patient as a child is great fun.
The subplot involving Patient additionally includes good social commentary on the natures of psychoanalysis and the prison system. This relates to determine the extent to which someone is functional and rational justifies determining that he or she is "cured."
The final scene between Doctor and young psychiatrist provides a great conclusion that has shades of "Columbo."
Anyone with questions or comments regarding "Pressure" is encouraged to either email me or to connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy.