Don't you love Anthony Perkins? He's at his very best in FIVE MILES TO MIDNIGHT, a suspense thriller from the last days of JFK's administration. He's teamed with his perdurable co-star Sophia Loren, the tasty Italian import whom Tony first met as they played country bumpkins in a ludicrous adaptation of Eugene O'Neill's DESIRE UNDER THE ELMS. Here Sophia is playing a European woman, which is all to the good, who somehow gets entangled with a mixed up American vet, sort of like Howard Hughes, played by Tony Perkins. What Sophia Loren doesn't realize is that her husband is crazy, abusive and violent!
Another 25 years later they re-did this movie with Julia Roberts playing the abused wife who fakes her own death to escape from a savage hubby. Here PERKINS fakes his own death to avoid financial ruin and also, it seems, to be in a better position to drive Sophia Loren insane! Poor Lisa, who happens to have two high placed pals, Jean Pierre Aumont and Gig Young, seasoned reporters, from whom she must conceal her tale of woe, a tale so bizarre nobody would believe it! Her cover story isn't very coherent, and no one can figure out why the plane crash that killed Robert might not have been kosher. Some lovely European vistas are glimpsed out the windows of the hotels and restaurants in the movie. You can make out Rousseau's grave in one such cutaway. When Sophia Loren starts falling for Gig Young, while trying to preserve the secret that her husband is still alive, it's another twist of the knife for all concerned!
Nowadays the theme of the battered wife is a cliche, but back then it was scandalous, simply scandalous. People theorized that Sophia Loren's own marriage wasn't too far removed from the union of Bob and Lisa, and other fans resented the way director Anatole Litwak seems to have directed Tony Perkins to act exactly like Norman Bates, except even more evil. It's a school of hard knocks for all of them, and only Gig Young seems 100 per cent innocent. I kept asking myself, if I were forced to make a choice between Tony Perkins and Gig Young, what would I do? It was this salubrious dilemma that kept me up five miles to midnight.