Saturday, August 15, 2009

Day 208: Four Sided Triangle (1953) - Rank 4/5


When I think of Hammer Studios, I think of the horror films that made the studio famous - vehicles for Peter Cushing, Michael Gough and Christopher Lee. Whether it was their take on the classic monsters (Frankenstein, Dracula, etc.) or new creations (Dr. Quatermass), I associate the studio with intense and frequently gruesome tales. With that conception in mind, one of the earlier projects for the studio - "Four Sided Triangle" - came as a pleasant surprise.

The story is a science-fiction tale with elements of Bradbury to it. Two scientists who have both shared a love for the field since their youth , manage to create a machine capable of duplicating anything placed inside of it to stunning perfection. Amazed by their success, Robin and Bill find themselves debating on how their new invention can best be used to serve mankind. Bill's mind soon turns to selfish notions, for science is not the only love the pair have shared since their childhood. There is also Lena, who now serves as their lab technician. Lena has always loved Robin, much to Bill's dismay, for he pines for her day and night. His solution? He dupes Lena into allowing herself to be duplicated, and Bill then whisks his new Lena, whom he dubs Helen, off to woo her. Ah, but wouldn't you know it - the duplicator duplicates memories too, and Helen desires Robin as much as her doppelganger, leaving Bill stuck with a clone that doesn't care for him. What to do...

It's a great story, though the duplicator and much of the science that dominated the first half of the film is unmistakably absent from the third and fourth acts. As a result, the film feels a bit imbalanced. Furthermore, the tale ends rather abruptly, considering how calculated the pacing and editing seemed prior. I have a hunch that the film was at one point in time far longer (or at least intended to be so) but was axed in production somewhere along the way. Still, it's a great science-fiction take on a fairly common love story.

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