Four Sided Triangle


Director: Terrance Fischer

Reviewed by Paghat the Ratgirl

Based on a science fiction novel by Robert F. Temple, Four Sided Triangle is an early black & white film by Terence Fischer, one of Hammer Films' two best directors (Val Guest was the other). The film needs forgiveness for its 1950s naivete & "science" so silly it makes Star Trek's pseudoscientific jargon credible by comparison. But the performances are adequate & Terence Fisher's script & direction are subtly perverse.

A variant on the Frankenstein theme, young scientists (Stephen Murray as jilted Bill, John Van Eyssen as happy Robin) develop a cloning machine assisted by Lena (Barbara Peyton). Because both young men love the same woman, guess who gets cloned, hence the fourth side of the triangle & Barbara Payton playing the second role of Helen.

Had it been a horror film the duplicate would've lacked a soul & been the Evil Twin & it would all have been much more suspenseful, but in fact the duplicate is just as wonderful as the original. Alas, as with the original, it is not Bill who Helen really loves, & its all headed for a conflagration.

The cloning device could have been used to duplicate anything endlessly & could've been used to solve world hunger, poverty, inequities of class, completely changing the nature of society. So if anyone thinks about the plot too long, it gets sillier & sillier that the best use Bill can find for the device is to make himself a sweetheart. But if one just goes with the flow, it is an interesting little sci-fi romance.

The laboratory out in the barn is visually interesting in the mad-scientist manner, & the cinematography is appealling. Anyone looking for a shambling Frankenstein plot will be apt to hate this film, which pre-dates Hammer's discovery of formulaic horror, though it hinted of where the studio & Terrance in particular was headed. My own feeling is that within its limitations it's a great film, made all the more interesting because its director would with the decade make full-blown Frankenstein movies.

copyright by Paghat the Ratgirl

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