The Power (1968)
Having found success working together previously on War of The Worlds and one of my favorites, The Naked Jungle, producer George Pal and director Byron Haskin teamed for the final time on this odd tale of telekinesis with a cast of veterans allowing one and all to play name that actor and what movie do you recall them from. Had this been made about four years later it could easily have been trimmed as a made for tv affair clocking in at a crisp 72 minutes as opposed to a running time of 108 minutes.
Taking center stage is “the man with a tan” George Hamilton. He’s a scientist working at some sort of NASA like organization that is being watched over by Michael Rennie and Washington. Among his fellow scientists are team leader Richard Carlson, Suzanne Pleshette, Earl Holliman, Nehemiah Persoff and Arthur O’Connell. It’s during a meeting of the faculty that O’Connell begins to come slightly unhinged in trying to convince the others that such a thing as telekinesis exists. With Rennie sitting in to hear the arguments, someone begins to spin a piece of paper on the table using the POWER of the mind. But who?
It’s definitely not O’Connell. He’s about to become victim number one. His grotesque remains are found by George which puts him squarely in front of police inspector Gary Merrill for questioning. George’s problems are beginning to mount when the facts he’s tossing about don’t seem to add up. His credibility has been assassinated prompting him to flee town and look for answers himself in O’Connell’s past and just who is Adam Hart. A name he found among the dead man’s papers.
George will start first with O’Connell’s widow, Lily Munster….. I mean Yvonne De Carlo. She plays it both ways grieving one moment and coming on as a drunken lush the next. She shines little light on the mysterious name so it’s off to where O’Connell grew up and small town thug Aldo Ray. Hamilton vs. Ray? Not likely so it’s back to town and wherever the trail leads him as he continues to stay one step ahead of Detective Merrill.
Of course Miss Pleshette is George’s love interest so we know she’ll stick by him as they confront each of the remaining scientists and even save the life of Rennie who appears to be suffering some sort of attack from persons unknown. They’ll pull him thru but won’t be so lucky with some of other well known co-stars. In addition to the ones I’ve already mentioned you’ll spot the familiar Celia Lovsky (Star Trek), Miiko Taka (Sayonara), Barbara Nichols (King and Four Queens) and even some gal billed as Miss Beverly Hills. Hate to say it but sounds like a name I’d see appearing at a local strip club twenty years ago.
The Power is not only the final film of the Pal/Haskin union but it’s Haskin’s final film as a director. He’d retire in 1968 while Pal soldiered on to produce the big screen adaptation of Doc Savage in 1975.
I kind of thought The Power started off in the right direction before the running time and the customary swinging sixties scenes began to numb my senses. I still think you had to live through the 60’s to appreciate how it’s sometimes brought to film in party sequences with long haired guitar players, herky jerky camera movements and dancing I wouldn’t try to imitate even if nobody was looking. Drunk or sober!
At least my interest picked up again over the final half hour when George and Suzanne unveil just who is the one with the telekinetic POWER that is killing all those around them. I’m an easy catch so when the time came to unveil just who it was, I’ll admit I had no idea that it was actually going to be ……….
I think the movie would have been better suited as a 1950’s sci-fi thriller only to be released ten years too late. Easy to watch and fun for those of us who appreciate most if not all the actors involved here one can see this turn up occasionally on TCM or pick up a Warner Archive Edition as I did that now rests here in the movie room at Mike’s Take.
Finally my favorite bit of useless information lifted from the trivia link at IMBD points out for no apparent reason that I can sanely come up with…………..”George Hamilton has a bare-chest scene in this movie. ”