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Private Property

Private Property (1960)
March 13, 2015 - 7:30 pm
David J. Schow, author, "The Outer Limits Companion."

Restored by UCLA Film & Television Archive with funding provided by The Packard Humanities Institute

Private Property  (1960)

Produced on a minuscule budget reportedly just below $60,000, Leslie Stevens’ controversial directorial debut Private Property was hailed by Variety as a “possible forerunner of an American ‘new wave’ movement” and was equally condemned by the National Catholic Legion of Decency for its exploration of seduction, rape and latent homosexuality.  Due to the film’s taboo subject matter, the Production Code Administration denied the work a code seal, making Private Property the first U.S. feature to be released without MPAA approval since Otto Preminger’s stark exploration of heroin addiction, The Man with the Golden Arm, in 1955.  Lack of Code approval, however, which kept major distributors from picking-up and widely releasing Private Property, didn’t prevent the disquieting independent film from eventually grossing over $2 million in box office receipts and enjoying successful art house runs across Europe.

Framed by Academy Award-nominated cinematographer Ted McCord’s gritty noir shadows as juxtaposed against a tony, sunbathed Beverly Hills location (in reality, Leslie Stevens’ own home), Private Property showcases a trio of edgy, superbly understated Method-esque performances by leads Kate Manx (in her screen debut), Corey Allen (Rebel Without a Cause, 1955), and Warren Oates (Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia, 1974).  As a vulnerable, affluent young woman driven to psychological distress by a sexless marriage, and further menaced by a pair of sociopathic drifters, Manx conveys a muted, permeating melancholy that effectively serves to anchor the drama’s purposeful excesses of Freudian symbolism.

Married prior to the making of Private Property in 1958, Manx and Stevens would divorce in 1964, with the actress tragically dying later that year from a reported overdose of sleeping pills.  Stevens continued to successfully work in film and television into the 1990s, and is best-remembered for creating and writing and directing episodes of the cult-classic science fiction television series, The Outer Limits (1963-1965).  —Mark Quigley

Director: Leslie Stevens.  Production: Kana Productions, Inc., Daystar Productions.  Distribution: Citation Films, Inc.  Producer: Stanley Colbert.  Screenwriter: Leslie Stevens.  Cinematographer: Ted McCord.  Editor: Jerry Young.  Music: Alex Compinksy.  Cast: Corey Allen, Warren Oates, Kate Manx, Robert Wark, Jerome Cowan.  35mm, b/w, 79 min.

Restored from a 35mm acetate composite dupe negative, a 35mm acetate print and a 35mm acetate track negative.  Laboratory services by The Stanford Theatre Film Laboratory, Audio Mechanics, DJ Audio, Simon Daniel Sound.