Rock Hudson and Claudia Cardinale play spy games in... Blindfold (1966)

On a beautiful morning in Central Park, psychiatrist Dr. Bartholomew Snow (Rock Hudson) is enjoying a horseback ride when he is stopped by two CIA men, General Pratt (Jack Warden) and his aide Barker. One of Snow's former patients, scientist Arthur Vicenti, has become a valuable government asset -- he's also suffered a mental breakdown. Needing Snow's help, Gen. Pratt arranges to take the good doctor to Vicenti's secret location. How secret is it? Well, they can only refer to it as Base X and Snow must always wear a blindfold when he is taken there.

For a week, Snow struggles to lead his new double life, but he soon realizes things can only get more complicated when his horse collides with a beautiful woman's bicycle in the park. This woman, Snow will quickly discover, is Arthur's sister, Vicki (Claudia Cardinale), who will stop at nothing to figure out what has happened to her missing brother. As if that wasn't enough, Snow is approached by Fitzpatrick (Guy Stockwell), a man who claims to be from the real CIA and makes Snow question who Gen. Pratt really is. Has Snow been helping the enemy all along?

Based on Lucille Fletcher's 1960 novel, Blindfold was the last film written and directed by Philip Dunne, someone I'll admit I didn't know until I started writing this post, but he proved to be quite the interesting figure. Not only was he a co-founder of the Screen Writers Guild, he also co-founded the Committee for the First Amendment with John Huston and William Wyler as a response to the HUAC hearings. While never subpoenaed or blacklisted himself, Dunne appeared before HUAC, along with fellow members Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall, Danny Kaye, and Gene Kelly. He also served as a character witness for Dalton Trumbo at his trial. In addition to all of that, Dunne was a successful screenwriter for many years, with such titles as How Green Was My Valley, The Ghost and Mrs. Muir, and The Robe to his credit. Curiously enough, Dunne lived until 1992, so it's a little unclear why Blindfold became his final film.


Blindfold is a little quirkier than your typical spy yarn. It has a great sense of humor, which works in tandem with the thriller aspects quite well. The movie's first big fight scene is a good example. During one of his morning horseback rides, Snow is grabbed by the bad guys and taken to a nearby storage shed. When he is unable to tell them where Arthur is, they begin brutally beating him. Snow is able to break free, though, and briefly fights them off by swinging around a canoe that he accidentally gets his head stuck in. He then finds himself keeping them at bay by spraying them with a fire extinguisher...while sitting on a carousel horse. The whole situation becomes a little ridiculous, which is reflected in Snow's giddy reaction.

Another source of the film's fun tone comes from a moment when Snow and Vicki need to cross into New Jersey as they hide from the police. To do this, they enlist the help of Vicki's uncle, who makes mannequins. Earlier in the movie, we see his (creepy) basement workshop and how he models his female dummies off of Vicki, so when it comes to evading the police, it makes sense that they'd use that to their advantage by having her uncle drive his delivery truck over the state border with Vicki and Snow in the back, pretending to be mannequins when the police check it. It's really funny, yet also a touch unsettling.



Once they're out of New York, Snow and Vicki, having used their detective skills, drive to the town where they believe Base X is to rescue Arthur. Since he was blindfolded every time he came there, Vicki suggests Snow blindfold himself again and guide them to the location by relying on his other senses. Realizing that the base is a house surrounded by a swamp, Snow and Vicki edge closer by using a sleek, high-tech boat. Just kidding, they borrow a donkey from an adorable little boy. And in case that isn't screwball enough for you, the donkey is named Hector, he only goes forward when you pull back on his reins, and he does not like having his tail touched.


While Blindfold's goofy spirit and twisty plot are wonderful, what initially drew me to it was Claudia Cardinale. Earlier this year, as my family began planning our European summer vacation, my mom and I discovered an Airbnb in Rome that the owner claimed to be Cardinale's former apartment. (I've never been able to confirm it, to be honest, but we still stayed there and it was crazy.) Although I had only seen Cardinale in The Pink Panther, she made such an impression on me that I was thrilled by the prospect of staying where she used to live. So thrilled, in fact, that when I saw Blindfold on Amazon Prime, I rented it immediately -- and I wasn't disappointed!

Cardinale is perfection as Vicki, a quick-thinking, feisty woman who aspires to be a ballet dancer but is stuck as a showgirl. Admittedly, it feels a little stereotypical to have Cardinale play a hot-tempered Italian, but Vicki proves to be Snow's equal in every way. She engineers their meet-cute and tricks him into taking her to his office so she can rifle through his things. When she sees Snow get taken to that shed in Central Park, she rallies a group of sailors and has them chase the thugs away. As they head for Base X, Vicki gamely wades through the swamp amongst the snakes and alligators. Perhaps my favorite moment, though, is when they get to Arthur's room and find a guard there. Snow tries to shoot him, but doesn't know how to work the gun, so Vicki just kicks the man through a window. This woman has no time for nonsense!


Hudson and Cardinale are simply terrific together. Although their first meeting doesn't go smoothly, their characters share an instant connection that neither of them expected. Whenever they are alone together, there is an undeniable sensuality between them. In one cute scene, Vicki is putting Mercurochrome on his busted lip while they discuss what their next move will be. As they talk, Vicki draws a heart on his cheek with the red medicine, leading to a passionate kiss. In the next scene, Snow, with the heart still on his face, meets with Gen. Pratt and no one even bats an eye, which for some reason delights me.



Snow is a notorious ladies' man who has already had six high-profile engagements, but we get the feeling that Vicki is warmer and more down-to-Earth than any of his exes. When he meets her family after only knowing her for less than 48 hours, he remarks that he never knew the families of his previous girlfriends. Hudson and Cardinale were so good together that they reunited two years later for the Italian crime-comedy film A Fine Pair. (Unfortunately, this particular movie has never been released on DVD and is very hard to track down, but you can find a few interesting excerpts on YouTube here.)


It's not an exaggeration to say that Rock Hudson is divine as Snow. His comedic instinct is a thing of beauty, and I adore his facial expressions. Just look at him when he calls his latest fiancée about their upcoming date and it turns into a break-up. His reactions go from apologetic to annoyed to bemused before settling on outraged, all within the span of a minute. Honestly, any time Hudson is onscreen, I find it impossible to take my eyes off of him. Aside from being drop-dead gorgeous, he radiated so much charisma and kindness. Watching him act is just sheer joy.

Blindfold is a stylish, lush piece of entertainment with two winsome leads and an incredible supporting cast. Its daffy charm and clever script are sure to please you. I mean, it's Rock Hudson and Claudia Cardinale -- what's not to like?













































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This is my contribution to the Rock Hudson Blogathon, hosted by myself and Crystal at In the Good Old Days of Classic Hollywood. Check out all of the other entries dedicated to this magnificent man here!

Comments

  1. This looks like a lot of fun. Seems like I should have been a spy they get all the girls.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. And I should have been a woman who gets mixed up in spy affairs -- they get guys like Rock Hudson! ;)

      Thanks for reading!

      Delete
  2. This was such an enjoyable read. I wasn't even aware of this movie, but it sounds so lovely. I really like how you explored both Rock and Claudia's performances in so much detail. And I definitely think you stayed where she did, it was just meant to be.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks! I didn't know about this movie, either, until earlier this year. It's a lot of fun, that's for sure!

      Delete
  3. I was aware of Philip Dunne and as a fan I am surprised that I had never heard of Blindfold before. I enjoyed your article immensely and think this movie would suit many moods for a many people, especially Rock Hudson fans.

    Thanks for co-hosting this blogathon. It is been very enlightening.

    As always, love the screencaps.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Paddy! It's always a blast taking screencaps, especially when you have such beautiful people as Rock and Claudia on the screen.

      I haven't been able to read anybody's posts yet, but I'm very excited to get to them in the next day or so!

      Delete
  4. I actually got to watch Hudson and Cardinale in A Fine Pair when it aired on TCM earlier this year. It was a rather fun spy comedy/drama with odd bits here and there. So I'm happy to learn they were paired together in another film. I'll definitely have to check this one out.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ahhhh, I had no idea TCM aired it! A few websites I looked at, including TCM's database, said that it was a difficult one to find, so that's good to know it isn't totally locked up in a vault somewhere. But I'm pretty jealous you got to see it! I have a feeling if you liked that one, you'll like Blindfold.

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  5. Dear Michaela,

    This is a very detailed article! It's a very good review. We have this film on a Rock Hudson collection, but we haven't watched it yet. Now I'm curious to see it!

    By the way, I just nominated you for the Versatile Blogger Award. I look forward to reading your response! Here is the article: https://pureentertainmentpreservationsociety.wordpress.com/2018/11/29/the-versatile-blogger-award/. Near the end of this article, I described a new series which we are going to be starting on the website in 2019. It is called "What the Code Means to Me," and it is a series of guest articles. I would like to invite you to participate in it! We could really use your talent.

    Yours Hopefully,

    Tiffany Brannan

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Wow, thanks, Tiffany! I'll go leave a comment on your post right now!

      Delete
  6. Love you to join; https://weegiemidget.wordpress.com/2018/12/10/adoring-angela-lansbury-blogathon/

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. What a great topic! I'll hop on over to leave a comment!

      Delete

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