Bunny Lake is Missing (1965)
Directed by Otto Preminger

Artistic & Entertainment Value
* * *

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A young, single American woman, Ann Lake (Carol Lynley), moves with her daughter Bunny to London, where her brother Stephen (Keir Dullea) works for a news agency. After she takes her child to her new school, the girl disappears and a policeman (Laurence Olivier) begins an investigation. He soon discovers that there is no evidence of the girl's existence and starts to suspect that she might have been imagined by Ann.

Otto Preminger's Bunny Lake is Missing is a generally well made and often engaging film. It is, however, also burdened with a number of faults. The quality of the acting is extremely uneven and ranges from inept to delightful. The production values are decent if forgettable, and the central story, while reasonably involving and suspenseful, is consistently uninspired.


The most enjoyable parts of the movie are not, however, those narrating the search for Ann's missing child, but the appearances of the minor characters played by Noel Coward and Martita Hunt. The former is a Chihuahua wielding intellectual and alcoholic who has a skull he claims to be that of the Marquis de Sade, and the latter is the retired founder of Bunny's school who spends her time recording and writing about the nightmares of children. Both are wonderfully well realized and absolutely delightful to watch.

While none of the other actors are as entertaining as are Coward and Hunt, most do give competent performances. Olivier displays his usual considerable talents, and Carol Lynley acquits herself well as an increasingly frantic mother. Dullea's performance, however, is so overdone that it is a real distraction. Through much of Bunny Lake is Missing, when the girl's existence is being questioned, Dullea's overacting leaves the viewer with little doubt about the direction in which the film will go.

Sadly, even without his performance, Ann's possible mental illness is so thoroughly corroborated by various pieces of evidence that the viewer realizes events will inevitably show this evidence in a different light. The moviegoer knows this is a red herring and, consequently, is never as able to immerse himself in the film as he could have done had the director been more subtle in his storytelling.


Thanks to the skilled performances of Olivier, Coward, and Hunt, who all bring their characters to life and make the moments they are on screen especially enjoyable, Bunny Lake is Missing is, despite its flaws, an entertaining film. It even manages, at times, to evoke a real sense of fear and suspense.

Review by Keith Allen

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