Peeping Tom

Released 1960




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Movie Summary

Michael Powell
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Peeping Tom, first seen in 1960, is now regarded as a classic psychological thriller; but, when new, it was by far the most controversial film ever to be made by the legendary British director Michael Powell. It concerns Mark, a shy, repressed young man who works as a cameraman on films and in his spare time makes some extra cash on the side taking still photographs of scantily clad models. But he is also a serial killer who films his (always female) victims at the very moment of their deaths. Even seen today, the film is a pretty shocking one.

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (2)

    • The role of Mark Lewis was originally intended for Laurence Harvey, but he chose instead to go to Hollywood to film "The Alamo" and "Butterfield 8", two far more lucrative acting jobs. To the great annoyance of screenwriter Leo Marks, Michael Powell then signed a German actor, Karlheinz Bohm, for the role. His name was anglicised to "Carl Boehm" for this film and a subsequent British movie, but when he later went to Hollywood (to work with Laurence Harvey, coincidentally enough), this name was slightly altered to "Karl Boehm", which remained his name for all future English-language acting work. In Germany, he continued to be billed under his real name.

    • This film reunited director Michael Powell with Brian Easdale, who had composed the music for his famous 1948 film The Red Shoes and a few subsequent films. Easdale's score for Peeping Tom is unusual in that it is almost entirely scored for solo piano.

  • QUOTES (0)

  • NOTES (1)

    • This was one of the most bitterly attacked British films of its era. It was almost unanimously reviled by British critics, despite Michael Powell's high reputation, and it was a box-office failure. In America, it was heavily cut and barely got any kind of release. However, it was praised in 1963 in the British magazine Motion (which ceased publication that same year), and in 1965, the eminent critic Raymond Durgnat called it a "near-miss at a masterpiece" in the magazine Movie. It was finally given a proper American release, in a restored print, in 1980, thanks to the admiration of director Martin Scorsese, and was subsequently widely seen in cinemas, on television and then on video. The British critic Dilys Powell, who had attacked it in 1960, reappraised it in the 1990s, now calling it a masterpiece, and adding that if she ever met Michael Powell (who died in 1990) in another world, she would apologise to him.


    • Michael Powell cast his own ten-year-old son Columba as the young Mark Lewis, and, to aid his performance, took the role of Mark's father himself and cast his wife, Frankie Reidy, as Mark's mother.

More Info About This Movie


Psychological, Cult, Classics