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One Night Stand

1978, Starring Chapelle Jaffe, Brent Carver, Dinah Christie, Susan Hogan. Directed by Allan King (Allan King Associates).

Guest Review by Josh Schafer

Based on the stage play by Carol Bolt, this Canadian made-for-TV movie is an outstanding example of a Hitchcockian style suspense/thriller that has been seemingly overlooked by movie fans everywhere, myself included. However, since there are a bunch of flicks with the same title, and it was just such a relatively small production by Toronto-based "actuality drama" and documentarian Allan King, it’s really no surprise it’s been obscured. That is, until I found it at a flea market on a dusty old table for just one dollar. It’s shaping up to be the best dollar I’ve spent in recent memory.

It’s Daisy’s birthday and she’s just been blown off by her boyfriend (a married man, by the way) so she decides to go out on the town to pick up a guy for the night. She happens across an intriguing fellow by the name of Rafe carrying a guitar case and showing a smile. Daisy wastes no time in asking him back to her apartment. Things heat up quickly and they neck in the back of the cab while on their way. But once they arrive, it seems Rafe isn’t inclined to have chance sexual encounters. He whips out his guitar instead, and serenades her with country-western tune (the titular track for the film). Daisy continues to seduce him, but Rafe’s having none of it. He distracts her from her lust, asking intimate questions, and he soon finds that Daisy isn’t a very happy girl. She’s lonely, and she’s disappointed with her world. He’s compassionate toward her, and through a series of songs (both live and pre-recorded on cassette) and dubious but playful anecdotes about his life, he charms her completely. But as the night progresses, Rafe turns bizarre, having manic fits one moment then becoming cool and collected the next. Things take a sharp twist when Daisy asks some questions of her own and Rafe concedes that he’s been in jail for murdering a girl.

The tension continues to build, and we are soon thrown into a whirlwind of suspense and confusion as we try to figure out just who Rafe really is, and what his intentions are. He spins a story about his friend Andy, and how he’s a con artist. He’s a liar. He’s just no good. But Rafe must always go back to him. He’s an inextricable part of his existence. Rafe wants to love Daisy forever; he wants to be good. But with Andy in the picture, it seems hopeless. As an audience, we finally start to grasp the internal struggle Rafe has been enduring inside the apartment walls.

Rafe finally gives into his carnal instincts (or is he affirming his love?), and the threat of Andy melts away with the rising of the sun. While Daisy is in the shower, her roommate, Sharon, shows up in light of the multiple calls Daisy made throughout the turbulent night. Rafe is there to meet her, and Sharon asks him to leave. That’s when Andy shows up. An abrupt piece of editing transports us to the final act, which is simply not to be missed.

The essence of the stage is readily apparent in this film, mainly because the vast majority of the action occurs in one room. This aspect also lends the film that claustrophobic tension that’s present in so many of Hitchcock’s films. It’s shot extraordinarily well, taking hints again from Alfie’s methods and manages to keep pace better than the bulk of thrillers I’ve ever laid eyes on. It even incorporates a splash of dark comedy here and there, another nod to Hitchcockian sensibilities. Chapelle Jaffe and Brent Carver (Daisy and Rafe, respectively) display great chemistry on-screen and create a fascinating (and frightening) relationship that makes the audience truly interested to see what will come of them. However, the real magic in this film comes from the complexity and subtlety of Rafe’s troubled psyche. His yearning to love and be loved interrupted by a maniacal and grim impulse makes this film moving and highly disturbing simultaneously. As if love weren’t complicated enough….

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