Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

The Collector (1965, UK)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

The Collector (1965, UK) (aka The Butterfly Collector)

Director William Wyler shot this claustrophobic yet absorbing psychological thriller - based upon John Fowles' 1963 novel of the same name. It was basically a one-situation, two-character work, told from the POV of a kidnapper. Its tagline stated:

"You won't dare open your mouth...but YOU'LL BE SCREAMING FOR HER TO ESCAPE."

The main character, identified by his amateur hobby-occupation (lepidoptery), was a reclusive individual who was obsessed with butterfly collecting. Freddie Clegg (Terence Stamp) was a mentally-disturbed, shy, introverted, obsessed young London bank clerk. In a flashback, it was shown that his Aunt Annie (Mona Washbourne) informed him that he had won a football betting pool with a prize of $200,000 (71,000 pounds). With the money, he bought and renovated a huge rural Tudor country estate in Sussex.

For a long time, he had been stalking and spying upon a pretty London art student on a scholarship at the Blake School of Art - to make her part of his 'butterfly' collection in his home's ornate underground cellar. He at first thought that he couldn't carry through with his plan:

(voice-over) "I told myself: 'I'll never go through with the plan.' Even though I'd made all the preparations and knew where she was every minute of the day."

Finally, he acquired the courage to chloroform and make her captive as a female hostage (or "specimen"):

  • Miranda Grey (Academy Award-nominated Samantha Eggar)

He cornered her in a narrow alleyway, placed a chloroformed cloth over her mouth until she passed out, then gagged and bound her hands before driving her in his black van back to his manor home. She was imprisoned in the manor's underground, stone-lined basement adjoined to the main house but with a separate entrance. It was a padlocked lower room hidden by a fake wall with a bookcase.

During his first visit with her, when he brought her food on a tray, she demanded release: "I demand to be released at once," but he refused. He bragged: "I know a lot about you, more than you think." He had been attentive to her and had studied her over a long time, knowing her father's name and her clothes' basic sizes, plus he had supplied her 'prison' with art books. He was pleased with himself in town when he saw a newspaper article about a "BEAUTIFUL ART STUDENT MISSING."

During a second visit with her, she asked defiantly: "I'm your prisoner, but you want me to be a happy prisoner. Why?" Not intent on sex, rape, molestation, ransom or murder, he said that his main (pathological motive) was to make her his "guest" - to "collect" and dominate her and add her to his set of pretty objects - and hoping that she would eventually reciprocate his feelings of love. He grabbed her - but with the sensation of physical contact, it incited him to whisper into her ear: "I love you" - a shocking revelation.

He basically replied that he would respect her and only become acquainted: "Funny thing is - I told myself a dozen times, I wasn't going to tell you. I was going to let it come natural on both sides. But I touched you just then, it came out....I want you to get to know me." She tried to reason with him ("But you don't kidnap people so they'll get to know you. Don't you realize the trouble that you could get into?"), and told him that if she was released, she wouldn't tell anyone.

Freddie to Miranda: "I love you"

Miranda Slapped Him

Although she gave the pretense of being cooperative, her many attempts and ploys to escape were unsuccessful. Once, she thought she could escape through a second locked door, but he had anticipated her flight and stopped her. She dared to slap him, causing him to be open to negotiating for her release. He implied that the length of her stay depended upon how soon she would get to truly know him and love him back - at least a minimum of a month more. He seemed to finally agree that he would release her in 4 weeks. She couldn't get him to listen to her distaste for him: "Don't you see that four months, four years, won't get what you want?" But in the meantime, she bargained for concessions: a letter to her parents, fresh air and light, a bath, some drawing materials, medications, and fresh fruit and salad.

After about a week went by, he allowed her out of the dungeon for fresh air and the promise of a bath. With her hands bound, he creepily and lovingly touched her hair - causing her to instinctively and defensively yell for help before he covered her mouth. She forced him to promise to never again touch her in the same way, but if he did, she made a bold request and ultimatum that he not abuse her:

I mean, don't knock me unconscious or chloroform me again or anything. I shan't struggle. I'll let you do as you like...The only thing is, if it ever does happen, I'll never respect you. And I'll never, never speak to you again. Do you understand?

In one of the more tense scenes in the film between captor and captive, Freddie allowed Miranda to take a bath on the second floor of the main house, and vowed that he would respect her privacy, although he would guard the unlockable door from the outside. She was almost discovered by an unexpected visit at the front door from neighbor Colonel Whitcomb (Maurice Dallimore). Freddie gagged her to prevent screaming, wrapped a robe around her, and lashed her to the pipes. Then, Freddie went downstairs where the neighbor greeted him as "Franklin," and complained that electrical modifications he had made to the basement would upset "the Ancient Monuments people" - who regarded it as an historical edifice that needed to be preserved.

She tried to alert the neighbor before he departed by using her outstretched foot to turn on the water flow into the tub - to create the sound of running water. The neighbor did ask about it, but Freddie covered up by claiming his male cousin was visiting. However, when water in the tub began to overlow out of the tub and down the stairs - it was noticed by both of them. Freddie ran upstairs to deal with the situation (and to tie up Miranda more tightly), while again lying that it was really his girlfriend who was visiting - and that she had a reason to not call out to alert him about the faulty water faucet: "She was embarrassed. You know how it is."

The Tense Bathtub Scene

After the incident with the tub before she was imprisoned again, Miranda requested that her bindings be tied in the front to avoid pain. Freddie proudly showed her his hobby's collection of butterflies (some raised from larvae, while some other aberrations were bred by him) - while she made the obvious connection between his beautiful insect collection (of dead specimens) and her own entrapment as his latest collectible item that he had become infatuated with - the image of her face was reflected on the glass, implying that she was also caught and pinned for his enjoyment:

Miranda: "They're beautiful. But sad. How many butterflies have you killed?...Think of all the living beauty you've ended....Let it go...And now you've collected me, haven't you? Don't you see what's happened? You've had this - this dream, with me in the center of it. It's not love. It's a sort of dream young boys have when they reach puberty, only you made it come true...We all want things we can't have."
Freddie: "We all take what we can get. I never had your advantages. My father wasn't a la-di-da doctor. I never went to a posh school. I was just a clerk in a bank."

"I'm dead. Everything here is dead. Is that what you love - death?"

She recognized that he was the recent winner of a fortune - and that he had many opportunities available to him - other than death: "You could do so much. You could travel, learn, meet people. You could have a wonderful life. But this is death, don't you see? Nothing but death. These are dead. I'm dead. Everything here is dead. Is that what you love - death?"

Many days later, she was allowed to write a dictated letter to her parents, as he had earlier promised, but then she was caught attempting to put a second note of distress in the envelope: ("Kidnapped by madman. Gerald Franklin. Pools winner. Prisoner in cellar, old Tudor house, near Reading. So far safe. Frightened."). After an argument, he stated how she still detested him: ("I'm a nobody still, aren't I?") - along with her friends and people of her type: ("Your friends would look down on me like you do...I've seen you with your friends. I know what they're like. You'd be ashamed of me in front of them"). As he departed, he ripped up the notes.

On the day that she was supposedly to receive her "freedom" (June 11th) with release at midnight, they discussed their different views of Holden Caufield in J.D. Salinger's "The Catcher in the Rye" and a Picasso painting. Freddie accused her of being patronizing and condescending: ("Don't patronize me...You see, you won't really talk to me"). He feared that he would be seen as ignorant and that he would be incompatible in the real world with people who held opinions like her and her friends:

"I don't fit anywhere either... I'm too ignorant to understand him?...It makes you so superior. You and all your friends. I can just see me with the lot of you. I'd be a right laugh, wouldn't I?...I was right to bring you here. We could never be friends outside."

Fearing that she had lost her chance at freedom, Miranda was slightly encouraged when he presented her with a gift - an evening dress in a box, to be worn that evening during a private dinner with him. At a candlelit table complete with champagne and caviar, he gave her a ring box - and proposed marriage (in name only). There would be certain conditions - she could live in the house in her own lockable bedroom if she wanted. Although she replied it couldn't be considered a real marriage ("I couldn't marry a man I don't belong to - in every way"), to comply, she agreed to marry him, but then he immediately expressed reservations - marriage would require outside witnesses ("Don't you think I know you need witnesses to get married?"), and asserted with a sinister stare that he could change his mind: ("I can do what I like!").

Freddie Changing His Mind About Marriage: "I Can Do What I Like"

Miranda Chloroformed Again in the Butterfly Room

Miranda Placed On His Upstairs Bed

When she tried to escape from him and fled to his butterfly room, he chloroformed her and carried her to his upstairs bedroom, where he placed her on the bed and caressed and embraced her body and face. The next day in the basement, Freddie asserted that he hadn't taken advantage of her when she was unconscious, and since she hadn't fallen in love with him yet, he had no choice but to keep her longer.

Later inside the main house, Miranda expressed how she wanted them to be friends again: ("I'd like us to try and be friends again"). She sat on his lap and requested a kiss - and then after her hands were untied, she slowly let her hair down and undressed and let her nightgown fall to the ground: ("Would I be doing this if I were only pretending?"). He laid on top of her and began to kiss her, but then pulled back and accused her of pretending and manipulating him to let her go: "You think if I make love to you I'll have to let you go." And then he threw her clothes back at her, ordered her to dress, and shouted out that he no longer respected her - he compared her to a whore:

I used to respect you, but you're no better than a common street woman. You'd do any disgusting thing to get what you want.

He threw her sketched and framed self-portrait in the fireplace, and rebound her hands, as she suddenly realized: "I'm never getting out of here alive, am I?" As they approached the cellar on a cold and rainy night, she hit him in the head with a shovel and bloodied him before running off. But he was still conscious and able to chase and grab her, drag her back and imprison her again. As he locked the door, she accidentally knocked over an electric heater and it shorted out. He went for medical attention to get treatment, unknowingly leaving her wet and cold in the cellar without heat. She worried that he would die and leave her imprisoned without any means of escape: "Please don't die!"

In the chilling finale three days later, he returned and found her extremely ill - probably suffering from pneumonia. After she begged for help and collapsed, he realized she was seriously ill when she entreated: "I don't want to die." He rushed off again to get a doctor for her, leaving the doors wide open, but she lacked the strength to escape.

Miranda Seriously Ill with Pneumonia After Three Days

Miranda's Death

In town, he realized he couldn't contact a doctor, and instead bought some over-the-counter medicine from a local pharmacy. When he returned, he found that Miranda had already died. He recollected his time with her through a voice-over: "I sat there all the rest of the afternoon, remembering." After burying her in a homemade coffin, he concluded that he had failed with Miranda (and it was mostly her fault), because he had set his sights too high on a higher-class female:

"For days after she was dead, I kept thinking. Perhaps it was my fault after all that she did what she did and lost my respect. Then I thought, no, it was her fault. She asked for everything she got. My only mistake was aiming too high. I ought to have seen I could never get what I wanted from someone like Miranda, with all her la-di-da ideas and clever tricks. I ought to have got someone who would respect me more. Someone ordinary. Someone I could teach."

He drove off to stalk after his next target - a nurse (Edina Roday) who had treated him in the hospital.

The 'Butterfly' Collector: Freddie Clegg (Terence Stamp)

Kidnapping of
Miranda Grey (Samantha Eggar)


Bringing His Prisoner Food in the Stone-Lined Crypt

Freddie Touching Her Lovingly - Causing Her to Yell For Help

Miranda's Bold Ultimatum

Miranda Preparing for Bath in Upstairs of House

Arrival of Nosy Neighbor Colonel Whitcomb

Water Flowing Down the Stairs From 2nd Floor Tub

Freddie Turning Off the Tub Faucet in Bathroom

Freddie's Dead Butterfly Collection

Freddie Discovering Her "Frightened" Note For Help

"Freedom" Day - June 11th

Freddie Feeling Inferior During a Discussion of Picasso and 'The Catcher in the Rye'

Candlelit Dinner with Champagne

Proposal of Marriage

Kissing and Undressing In Front of Him

"You're No Better Than a Common Street Woman"

Clobbered in the Head With a Shovel

Freddie's New Target


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