Top critical review
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on 21 March 2011
As well as their gothic horror films featuring vampires, werewolves, mummies, zombies and man-made creatures, Hammer Studios also made a number of more contemporary thrillers very much in the style of Hitchcock or Clouzot.
Like "Taste Of Fear" (a.k.a. "Scream Of Fear") and "Maniac" before it, "Crescendo" is set in France and it stars Stefanie (she's gaw-juss) Powers as a beautiful music student who travels to a villa there to research the life and work of a now-dead famous composer and she soon becomes mixed up in all sorts of strange goings-on involving the late composer's widow, his wheelchair-bound son, a naughty French maid, the family's creepy manservant and even a doppelganger (or whatever the French word for doppelganger is).
To say much more about the plot would probably spoil the film for those who have not seen it and I am sure that lots of people will not be too familiar with this film because it is not one of the more well-known Hammer movies although it did feature as part of a double-bill in the early 1970s with "Dracula A.D. 1972" (helmed by the same director). I will mention though that some elements of the story did remind me a little of the brilliant "What Ever Happened To Baby Jane?" and the doppelganger theme also later appeared in the Hammer House of Horror tv episode "The Two Faces Of Evil". Alongside Stefanie Powers, the cast of "Crescendo" also includes Clive Anderson lookalike James Olson, Margaretta Scott, Jane Lapotaire and Joss Ackland.
This DVD presents the film in its correct screen ratio of 1.85:1 and it is uncut so this means that all the saucy bits have been left intact. Extras are a bit thin on the ground - well, there aren't any actually, but that does not really bother me. If you have a desire to track down some of Hammer's more obscure non-horror output then you could do a lot worse than give "Crescendo" a look.