4D Man (1959)
In a flashback to the sci-fi films of the fifties, Kristina and I shine the light on a pair of “B” titles worth seeking out.
From producer Jack H. Harris and director Irvin S. Yeaworth Jr. comes the follow up to their smash hit of 1958, The Blob. All that’s missing is the young actor going by the name of Steven McQueen for the role of a young scientist who catches the eye of knockout Lee Meriwether.
Robert Lansing is involved in the scientific research of creating a new metal. Soon to be dubbed “Cargonite.” He’s a straight laced company man who sits in the background and let’s his employer take the credit for his work. He’d like nothing better than to marry Miss Meriwether and have things continue just as they are.
Into his dreary job focused life comes his estranged younger brother James Congdon who is conducting some research of his own. He’s rather secretive but has a compelling piece of evidence pointing out that his experiments have met with some success. It has to do with a mingling of atoms allowing one object to pass through another.
Complicating the brothers relationship is the fact that Meriwether has fallen for the younger Congdon and left Lansing to pine over a lost love. When she turns down his marriage proposal he goes looking through his brothers papers and makes a discovery of his own allowing he himself to pass through solid objects.
Cue the mad scientists club.
Behind a jazzy score and co stars Robert Strauss and a very young Patty Duke, the film takes a turn towards the territory of the Karloff-Lugosi flick The Invisible Ray. With every pass through a solid object, Lansing begins to age and lose his energy not to mention his own sanity. He quickly learns that by putting his hand through the body of a living person he can restore his own energy thereby killing those he comes into contact with. Hence the reference to Karloff’s Dr. Ruhk who kills with a single touch.
“A man in the fourth dimension is indestructible.”
With Lansing looking more and more like a ghoul after every movement through walls and windows, his brother begins to piece the mystery together and will team with local police to bring the issue to a close. It’s just a matter of who is going to live and die before the curtain comes down on this color feature.
This runs at a fast clipped 85 minutes proving to be a decent time filler though far less known then the teams earlier film, The Blob. It’s better suited at recalling the Karloff films of the late thirties and early forties that he made for Columbia like Before I Hang or The Man With Nine Lives.
Universal-International picked up the film for release that featured a rather uncomfortable scene involving Lansing’s decaying scientist and a then pre-teen Patty Duke. Whether the film makers realized it or not it comes across as a scene of impending child molestation which at the time was not a topic of discussion in films. Therefore I would probably categorize it as a misleading sequence by chance.
I came across this title by pure luck a few years back having picked it up on DVD. Previously I had never heard of it but the case caught my eye which features the original poster art from ’59. I quickly marked it sold and should you come across it it’s worth a look for that nostalgic fifties “B” film kind of fun.
Speakeasy is also featuring a fifties flick with a familiar genre name attached to it. It stars The Incredible Shrinking Man himself, Grant Williams. Be sure to check it out.
4D Man was posted as part of the Why Horror? Why Not? celebrations.