Written by / 1/13/2023 / No comments / , , , , , , , , ,

YVETTE MIMIEUX LEADING 'BRAINWASH' AKA 'CIRCLE OF POWER'

Yvette Mimieux in BRAINWASH/CIRCLE OF POWER Year: 1981 Rating: ****

Mostly known by the far more dramatic title CIRCLE OF POWER — which probably made the video rental more of a shelf-grabber — this early-80's cult curio genuinely titled BRAINWASH is based on the previous decade's self-help Erhard Seminars Training aka EST, where a group of participants are stuck inside a room, sometimes for days, without even a bathroom, under intense scrutiny by a charismatic leader for individual inner-self discovery, or something...

But in the Reagan-era, Hollywood saw fit to make Yvette Mimieux's gorgeous forty-something Bianca Ray a corporate tycoon (owner of a gigantic advertising firm) rather than hippie-guru, programming a handful of married couples not into personal-fulfillment but to become high-paid executives, and, halfway through... in a televised interview the group watches during a much needed break... she mentions how the current American leader wants her in his cabinet...

Walter Olkewicz and Tony Plana in BRAINWASH with Hugh Gillan

Her program separating husbands and wives into mostly vacant rooms except chairs in a semi-circle where the empty space in-between's calledThe Pit: first working on an extremely overweight Walter Olkewicz, who goes through more of a mental and physical ringer (fully nude and thrown into a cage) than anyone else... then intensely bonding with Yvette while some of the other men's conversions occur in a rushed montage...

All leading to the film's central heroes in married-couple Christopher Allport — who Mimieux partially seduces in a standout sequence after questioning why his mousy-cute, put-upon yet surprisingly and surreptitiously assertive wife Cindy Pickett was abused in her own group (by swarthy co-leader John Considine)...

Cindy Pickett and Christopher Allport in BRAINWASH

Meanwhile his male cohorts, including Tony Plana, Leo Rossi and Carmen Argenziano... bullied not only by Yvette but muscular henchman Denny Miller (and Terence Knox)... eventually become rabid followers, ferociously set against the doubtful Allport in a suspenseful exploitation that ultimately seems like half a movie, and, with a group of black employees providing passive roman chorus outside, the compound isn't as ominous (or claustrophobic) to make this edgy psychological drama an all-out uncompromising thriller...

So other than some nudity and swearing, BRAINWASH feels more like an no-holds made-for-television movie than a toned-down theatrical feature and yet, either way, Yvette Mimieux hasn't looked this fantastic since the 1960's, trading in a horrendously plain BLACK HOLE perm-haircut with her (signature) flowing blonde mane... while her performance could have warranted a Best Actress Oscar — with Walter Olkewicz a much-deserved Supporting. 

Yvette Mimieux in CIRCLE OF POWER originally BRAINWASH
Cindy Pickett in BRAINWASH
Yvette Mimieux in CIRCLE OF POWER originally BRAINWASH
Yvette Mimieux in CIRCLE OF POWER aka BRAINWASH with Denny Miller
Cindy Pickett in CIRCLE OF POWER originally BRAINWASH
Yvette Mimieux in CIRCLE OF POWER originally BRAINWASH
Tony Plana, Leo Rossi and Christopher Allport in BRAINWASH
Yvette Mimieux in CIRCLE OF POWER with Denny Miller and Terence Knox
Christopher Allport, Hugh Gillan, Tony Plana andWalter Olkewicz in BRAINWASH
Yvette Mimieux in CIRCLE OF POWER originally BRAINWASH
Cindy Pickett in BRAINWASH with Denny Miller
Yvette Mimieux in CIRCLE OF POWER originally BRAINWASH
Yvette Mimieux in CIRCLE OF POWER originally BRAINWASH
Cindy Pickett in BRAINWASH
Opening Credit proof of CIRCLE OF POWER actually titled BRAINWASH
Opening Credit proof of CIRCLE OF POWER actually titled BRAINWASH
Opening Credit proof of CIRCLE OF POWER actually titled BRAINWASH
Opening Credit proof of CIRCLE OF POWER actually titled BRAINWASH
Opening Credit proof of CIRCLE OF POWER actually titled BRAINWASH
Credit for CIRCLE OF POWER of powerful lead Yvette Mimieux
Yvette Mimieux in BRAINWASH/Circle of Power
Yvette Mimieux in BRAINWASH
Yvette Mimieux in BRAINWASH
Mary McCusker in BRAINWASH
Walter Olkewicz and Yvette Mimieux in BRAINWASH with Denny Miller and Terence Knox
John Considine in BRAINWASH
Henry G. Sanders in BRAINWASH

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