Robert Altman’s thriller That Cold Day in the Park (1969) is a long-overlooked gem from an American master. This neglect should end with its inclusion in Eureka’s Masters of Cinema Series.
The film follows Frances Austen (Sandy Dennis), a young and wealthy spinster, who takes care of a deaf teenager (Michael Burns) after finding him freezing in the park by her house. After Austen tries to communicate with him, the boy’s silence heightens her feelings of loneliness and enflames her possessive nature to frightening proportions.
That Cold Day in the Park, which premiered at the Cannes Film Festival, was released prior to Altman’s breakthrough film MASH. With its striking performance by Sandy Dennis, That Cold Day in the Park anticipated Altman’s continued interest in female psychological breakdown – as later borne out in Images (1972) and 3 Women (1977).