The Doll, written by Francis Durbridge, was a highly successful TV series when first screened in 1975. Durbridge has always been very popular in Germany, and happily the German DVD of the series, which is now available under the title Die Puppe, can be viewed in the original English language version. Durbridge, an economical writer, later turned the script into a novel, which I reviewed on this blog seven years ago.
Watching the DVD, and having forgotten most of the plot twists in the interim, I found myself enjoying the story all over again. The baffling set-up is quite splendidly done, although as I said in relation to the book, the solution (and the explanation for the part played in the story by the mysterious dolls) is a bit of a let-down. Never mind: this is often the case when the premise of a murder puzzle is quite dazzling, as with so many of the stories by Cornell Woolrich or Boileau-Narcejac.
John Fraser plays publisher Peter Matty, who becomes besotted with a woman called Phyllis whom he meets in Geneva. Given that the actor playing Phyllis is Anouska Hempel, his infatuation is easily explained. She must have been one of the most beautiful stars of her generation. All the more frustating for Peter, therefore, when she disappears mysteriously while on a trip to the Isle of Wight.
The complications come thick and fast. Why did Phyllis lie about her trip to the island? Why did her photo appear in a shop window, and then get replaced with a photo of another woman? Why did a doll appear floating in Peter's bath? What is the secret nursed by dodgy journalist Max (played by Derek Fowlds, of all people)? And so on. Whilst I did find some of the answers to these questions a bit unsatisfactory, the pace of the story meant that I didn't mind too much, and the inclusion of one of my favourite songs, "The Look of Love" was an unexpected bonus. . Overall verdict: great light entertainment. .