4 sided triangle Review and Opinion


Four Sided Triangle (1953)
Director: Terence Fisher

review by Tony Lee

Speculative SF (predating The Fly, 1958) in which scientist Bill (Stephen Murray) and old friend Robin (John Van Eyssen) build a homemade reproducer machine that can duplicate an object (a watch chain, a signed cheque) in precise detail. Events become complicated, politically, when the authorities are alerted to the copier's great potential, but turn to tragedy when it's revealed that both men are in love with childhood sweetheart, Lena (Barbara Payton). James Hayter's kindly old village doctor (who supports the work) also serves as narrator, chronicling the eventual cloning of Lena as Helen (no bride of Frankenstein she), and is the first to realise that the affair is doomed - if only because Helen was 'born' with Lena's memories and already wears Robin's ring.
   The genius inventor, working in secret, is a cornerstone of genre cinema from the 1950s, and Four Sided Triangle is a melodramatic yet solid example of the form. The scientist whose dedication knows no bounds (this one even claims to have made "a miniature iron lung" for the hamster damaged by his experiments) is, I think, a peculiarly British character. It's a conceit that's rarely as effective in US movies, which tend to be more sensational and therefore labelled as schlock in retrospect. Not a masterpiece by any means, but a quaintly moral fable hanging on its moment of irony (the clone loves the assistant, too, not her creator).
   Former film editor Terence Fisher, already an accomplished director with 14 films to his credit, makes the most of this first opportunity to work from his own script (co-written with Paul Tabori, based on William F. Temple's 1949 debut novel) and displays some hints of the fascinating visual style he brought to later Hammer productions.previously published in VideoVista #17

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