THE COUCH (1961) Reviews and overview


‘An irresistible impulse to kill – an unbearable compulsion to confess’

The Couch is a 1961 [released 1962] American psychological thriller feature film directed by Owen Crump from a screenplay by Robert Bloch and a story by Blake Edwards and Crump. The movie stars Grant Williams, Shirley Knight, and Onslow Stevens.

“Someone is going to be murdered at exactly 7:00,” an unidentified caller informs the police. His voice is calm, measured, pleasant even. “I’m the murderer.”

It’s 6:55. Five minutes later, a fatally stabbed man keels over on a city sidewalk…


“In one scene, Charles is pulled so far into his own black pit of rage that he goes nuclear-ballistic while stabbing at a sock drawer. Sounds silly, but it’s played so well that it’s actually chilling.” Zack Carlson, Birth. Movies. Death.

“In 1961, sudden death striking out of nowhere in a public place was extremely unusual, and it’s too bad that The Couch doesn’t make more of it. Although Bloch’s script isn’t particularly polished, the relationships are sound and the growing threat to the vulnerable Shirley Knight grips our attention.” Glenn Erickson, DVD Savant

“This film captures the mood of the early 1960s quite well but is nearly defeated by the harshest, most shadowy use of set lighting I’ve ever seen. Interesting conclusion takes place in a hospital, with–naturally–bright blinking lights. With better cinematography, this movie could have been a minor classic.” Mrb1980

“The acting, like the directing, is generally efficient and unfussy, but Grant Williams (best remembered as The Incredible Shrinking Man) plays the killer with a hysterical charm that adds nicely to the tension; one never knows whether (or when) he’s going to be the All-American Clean-Cut Boy or the Out-of-Control psycho…” Dan Stumpf, Mystery*File

“Though he lived another 36 years, Crump never directed another feature but I can’t see a single detail in this assured piece of work that I would change. Bloch’s intricate script doesn’t drop a stitch.” Tim Lucas, Pause. Rewind. Obsess.

Cast and characters:

  • Grant Williams … Charles Campbell – Brain of BloodThe Outer Limits; The Munsters; The Leech Woman;The Incredible Shrinking Man; The Monolith Monsters
  • Shirley Knight … Terry Ames – Diabolique (1996); The Sender; Ghost Story TV series; The Outer Limits
  • Onslow Stevens … Doctor Janz – Them!; The CreeperHouse of Dracula; The Monster and the Girl
  • William Leslie … Doctor David Lindsay
  • Anne Helm … Jean Quimby
  • Simon Scott … Lt. Kritzman
  • Michael Bachus … Sgt. Bonner
  • John Alvin … Sloan
  • Harry Holcombe … District Attorney
  • Hope Summers … Mrs. Quimby


The Couch was released in the USA by Warner Bros. on February 21st 1962. A Warner Archive DVD was released on November 2, 2011.

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