|Sal Mineo as Lawrence Sherman|
|Juliet Prowse as Norah Dain|
|Elaine Stritch as Marian Freeman|
|Jan Murray as Lt. Dave Madden|
|The original, uncut version of Who Killed Teddy Bear? runs 94 minutes and can be distinguished from slightly truncated copies by the unblurred imagery shown in the title sequence|
The pair are orphaned (there being a brief allusion made to their parents’ deaths, with Edie going so far as to call her brother, “mommy-daddy”) and his momentary neglect – as a then-underage boy surrendering to the seduction of an unidentified “sexually-experienced older woman” – resulted in Edie suffering the starcase accident which left her mentally and emotionally frozen at roughly the age of her trauma.
|Margot Bennett as Edie Sherman|
Bennett (former wife of personal crushes Keir Dullea AND Malcolm McDowell) is very good
in a role that foreshadows Taliah Shire's Adrian in Rocky
Jump ahead several years: Lawrence is an adult with a crippling attraction/repulsion attitude toward sex. The silent recrimination of his sister's unblaming, childlike dependency inflaming in him a neurotic prudishness which seeks to suppress her natural maturation. As for the lost teddy bear, a symbol of Lawrence's guilt, he tells Edie that it has been killed in an accident, when in actuality, he has secreted it away.
CASE #1 Lawrence
|Where should I be looking?|
Sal Mineo's toned, always-on-display body does most of his acting in Who Killed Teddy Bear? Right now I'd say it's acting like a compass needle pointing north, subtly(?) identifying the guilty party
|"Who is this? Who IS this?"|
For films like this to work, it's necessary for it never to occur to the recipient
of an obscene phone call to merely hang up.
|Being just a simple girl from Rochester, NY, Norah can't be faulted for mistaking |
Marian's offer of succor to be as dirty as it sounds
The film takes a weak stab at trying to drum up a little suspense as to the identity of Norah's peeping tom/stalker by casting a wide net of suspicion over everyone in her skeevy circle (a lecherous maître d', a young Daniel J. Travanti as a deaf-mute mute bouncer with piercing eyes, the cop who takes a personal interest in her case), but the choice to shoot the caller from the neck down, calling attention to his impossibly taut backside and wasp waist, swiftly narrows the field of probable suspects to a comical degree.
Honestly, Who Killed Teddy Bear? is a dark film that takes a head-first dive into the sewer and doesn't come up for air. Were it a better film, it would probably be unwatchable
|Corruption of Innocence|
In profiling the home lives of Lawrence and Lt. Madden, Who Killed Teddy Bear? parallels the
similar damage that can arise from dissimilar obsessions
WHAT I LOVE ABOUT THIS FILM
Let's Go to the Movies!
Lawrence treats himself to a picture show. Who Killed Teddy Bear? is worth checking out
for its scenes of '60s-era Times Square alone. Amusingly, this dive of a theater has a uniformed doorman!
|"You look like a whore!"|
Incredibly, this line of dialog isn't delivered by Edie to her brother
I haven't seen the-late Elaine Stritch in many films, and I'm not sure her range extended far beyond some variation of the tough-old-broad type; but within that range, she is untouchable. She gives the best performance in the film (arguably the only performance in the film), turning a "type" into a complex, fleshed-out character. She enlivens the proceedings and raises the film's quality bar each and every moment she appears.
|A young Daniel J. Travanti (Hill St. Blues) appears as Carlo, the bouncer|
|For a film marketed to the heteronormative exploitation market, no physique in the film comes under quite the same degree of close-up camera scrutiny as Mineo's. Not that I'm complaining.|
An actor’s body is their instrument, but when that instrument is puffed out with ornamental muscles, it runs the risk of actually inhibiting expression, not assisting (think Channing Tatum’s neck). Such is the case with Mineo in Who Killed Teddy Bear?; as appealing and eye-catching as his body is, it begins a performance a good 30 seconds before he does. And worse, it seems to encase Mineo emotionally...HE seems as distracted by it as we are.
|A few of the shows running on Broadway at the time|
THE STUFF OF FANTASY
Who Killed Teddy Bear? would have a running time of 60-minutes if it excised all the scenes of discotheque dancers doing The Watusi and the The Frug. Happily, along with being a perfect time-capsule of New York at its grimiest, this film offers fans of '60s wiggling plentiful opportunities to feel less superior about how kids dance today.
The film's erotic set-piece, one precipitated by Lawrence's observation that the way people dance is "Very suggestive!" is a two-minute dance-off by the statuesque Prowse and slim-hipped Mineo that is both hilarious and terribly, terribly sexy. Suggestive, indeed!
|Unable to simulate masturbation onscreen back in 1965, Mineo is shown stroking his thighs while making an obscene phone call. According to Mineo, this was the first American film to feature a man in jockey shots|
The version of Who Killed Teddy Bear? available on DVD overseas is a slightly edited version from the 94-minute original. Here is what can be found in the uncut version (spoilers):
1. The bodies in the title sequence are visible.
2. Scene with Stritch and Prowse in her apartment is lengthier, including Stritch relaying this information: “I never wore a bra until I was 28. And then for a fast ten minutes. Some quack convinced me it helped firm the muscles. I don’t like being fenced in. It’s a hang-up of mine.”
3. Flashback of Mineo's seduction by older woman is longer and slightly more explicit (his body, not hers).
4. Scenes of Mineo at Times Square porn shops and in front of porno theater are longer.
5. Mineo kisses and embraces Stritch after killing her in the alley.
6. There's a brief scene of Mineo humping his bed in his BVDs.
7. Final assault is slightly more explicit
The full (edited) version of Who Killed Teddy Bear? is available on YouTube.
Depending on the source the voice singing the title song over the film's opening credits has been attributed to either Rita Dyson or Claire Francis (Mikki Young). Until that mystery is cleared up, there are several cover versions floating around the net;
Hear Leslie Uggams sing the haunting theme to Who Killed Teddy Bear?
Hear 80s pop singer Josie Cotton sing the haunting theme to Who Killed Teddy Bear?
In 1965, the same year Who Killed Teddy Bear? was released, Juliet Prowse debuted in her own TV sitcom, the short-lived (and rather terrible, as I recall) Mona McCluskey. Sal Mineo appeared as a guest on an episode. See Mona McCluskey opening credits on YouTube.