Film (1968). Galaxy/MGM. Produced by George Pal. Directed by Pal, Byron Haskin. Written by John Gay, based on The Power (1956) by Frank M Robinson. Cast includes George Hamilton, Nehemiah Persoff, Suzanne Pleshette and Michael Rennie. 109 minutes. Colour.
Without the spectacular special effects of Pal's earlier sf films, The Power concentrates instead on suspenseful plotting and the clever investing of apparently ordinary situations with a sense of menace, coming – with considerable success – as close to film noir as Pal ever approached. It tells of a Mutant supermind Villain, masquerading as an ordinary human, who is eliminating, piecemeal, a group of Scientists who suspect his existence. One (Hamilton) survives not only murder attempts but also efforts to make him a non-person, all records of his past being deleted one by one. The reason for his survival, as he himself finally learns, is that he too is a mutant: everybody's favourite Cliché in pulp-sf yarns about Psi Powers. The film ends with a battle of wills between the two superminds – a literally heart-stopping event. The interesting script and taut direction led critic John Baxter to call it "one of the finest of all sf films". It is certainly, aside from War of the Worlds (1953), Pal's best sf production. [PN/JB]
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