(director: Irvin S. Yeaworth Jr.; screenwriters: Theodore Simonson/Cy Chermak/from an original idea by Jack H. Harris; cinematographer: Ted Pahle; editor: William B. Murphy; cast: Robert Lansing (Scott Nelson), Lee Meriwether (Linda Davis), James Congdon (Tony Nelson), Patty Duke (Marjorie Sutherland), Robert Strauss (Roy Parker), Guy Raymond (Fred), Edgar Stehli (Dr. Theodore W. Carson), Dean Newman (Dr. Brian Schwartz), Elbert Smith (Captain Rogers), Chic James (B-girl), Jasper Deeter (Mr. Welles); Runtime: 85; Image Entertainment; 1959)
“It was produced by Jack H. Harris, who started a promotional campaign for the film by offering a $1 million reward to anyone who could walk through a wall.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
A nice premise about the 4th dimension results in an exciting low-budget pulp sci-fi film, which is supported by some fine acting by Robert Lansing and Lee Meriwether. The only spoiler was some incredulous acting by James Congdon, putting a damper on the action scenes. This B-film also look stilted at times, but was able to go forward with a riveting story and overcome its shortcomings and lackluster special effects (except for the thrilling walk through the wall).
It was produced by Jack H. Harris, who started a promotional campaign for the film by offering a $1 million reward to anyone who could walk through a wall. As far as I know there were no winners, but it was fun to see the way some film moguls promoted their films back then.
Dr. Tony Nelson (James Congdon) accidentally burns down his boss’ building where he is working on his own science project. He had been hired to work by Mr. Welles only because of the recommendation of his older brother Dr. Scott Nelson (Robert Lansing), who is more stable and is a respected scientist.
Tony is unemployed and is returning to see his sober-minded, demure brother, who heads a research team for the Fairview Research Center, where “the ne’er-do-well” is offered a job by him. Scott has just completed a successful experiment creating an impenetrable metal that is stronger than steel. But the research center head, who had nothing to do with the success of the project, Mr. Carson (Stehli), grabs all the credit for himself, barely mentioning Scott and his research team — consisting of his girlfriend, the attractive lab assistant Linda Davis (Lee Meriwether) and the sneakily ambitious Roy Parker (Strauss).
Linda is attracted to Tony and immediately two-times Scott. When Scott learns from Tony that he invented a Force Field box, he steals the invention from Tony’s locker and discovers that matter can be transferred through him — giving him supernatural power. He conducts an experiment proving a wooden pencil could go through a piece of steel, but what he doesn’t count on are the experimental side effects which consists of deadly impulses such as egomania, greed, and the need to kill. It also causes him to age very rapidly as his system is drained of its life-force.
Being indestructible and now able to walk through walls when he is in the 4th dimension stage, Scott robs a bank and accidentally kills his physician Dr. Schwartz by just touching him. He also discovers he can keep young by stealing the other person’s life-force when he kills them. The weird thing is that Schwartz, who was a young man, has rapidly aged and appears in his death to be a man of 90. It seems that a year’s worth of energy takes place in a second and gives Scott this superpower.
Lansing does a convincing job of going from a noble scientist only interested in helping humanity and not interested in personal gain, to a base villain. He is now being hunted down by his brother who feels guilty that he invented the machine that made this tragedy possible and by Merwether, who feels she has the best chance of getting close to him and eliminating him. Also searching are the police, who are concerned that dead people are popping up all over town.
The crudest line in this hokum sci-fier, is a question asked by Meriwether to Lansing: “Do you want to be remembered as a creator or a killer?” Of course, by that time in the story Lansing’s brains have been fried and he’s too far gone to be brought back to sanity, never mind answer the question.
REVIEWED ON 3/9/2001 GRADE: C+