After her son (William Swan, The Parallax View) leaves for the weekend — wouldn’t ya know it? — the electricity goes out while Cornelia’s between floors! Ringing the alarm bell attracts only a hobo (Jeff Corey, True Grit) who screams “Repent!” and harbors a thirst for the bottles of wine he spots in Cornelia’s kitchen, not to mention a hooker (Ann Sothern, who redefines “blowzy” with her performance) he brings there.
Worse for Cornelia is the pantyhose-over-the-face trio that bursts in soon after, led by a belching James Caan, in his first true film role. He exhibits the calm coolness and simmering menace for which he’s become known, but the movie belongs to de Havilland, despite spending most of it in a three-walled box. But at least she doesn’t just stand there; she cries and shrieks and attempts escape and chews the scenery all the same. It’s a hokey performance of histrionics, but — like its gonzo credit sequence — undeniably fun to watch. —Rod Lott