4D Man (1959)

“Nothing can stop him… A man in the fourth dimension is indestructible!”

4D Man Poster

Synopsis:
A scientist (James Congdon) experiments with an amplifier that would allow objects to pass through solid matter into the “fourth dimension”; but when his scientist brother (Robert Lansing) discovers that he possesses this “lifeforce” power himself, dire consequences ensue…

Genres:

Review:
Irvin Yeaworth is best known for directing The Blob (1958), a low-budget surprise hit which gave Steve McQueen his first leading role. Yeaworth’s next film was this equally engaging sci-fi horror flick, which — in its treatment of mad scientists, megalomania, and dual personalities — evokes numerous other classic genre films, most notably The Invisible Man and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. The storyline, while occasionally cliched and overwrought, is mostly compelling, primarily thanks to the fact that the screenwriters take their time establishing the film’s central characters: first we’re introduced to “wild child” James Congdon’s relentless pursuit of his scientific passion, which brings him to his more “established” older brother’s laboratories; next, a potentially rocky love triangle emerges between Congdon and feisty Lee Meriwether (Lansing’s assistant, who he’s about to propose to); finally, the story shifts to its central premise — the surprise powers possessed by Lansing, who becomes the film’s conflicted protagonist. By the time Lansing begins to experiment with his “4D” abilities (the film’s special effects are low-budget but effective), and discovers the hideous truth that he is sapping his own “lifeforce” at an astonishing rate, we care about him as an individual, and feel sorry for the inevitable mess he’s gotten himself into. For a much more detailed analysis of the film (giving away additional plot spoilers), see DVD Savant’s thorough review.

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • Robert Lansing as Scott Nelson
    4D Man Robert Lansing
  • Fun visual effects
    4D Man Special Effects

Must See?
No, but it’s recommended, and definitely must-see for sci-fi fans.

Links:

One Response to “4D Man (1959)”

  1. First viewing. Rather in agreement here. Not a must, but silly fun nevertheless.

    At one point, a startled Lee Meriwether asks a now-crazed Robert Lansing, “Do you wanna be remembered as a creator or a killer?” Lansing laughs maniacally, of course, as if to say ‘Can’t I be both?’

    It’s that kind of movie.

    Director Yeaworth’s work is not that far removed from Ed Wood’s. But Yeaworth had a bit more talent, was better with actors, and seemed to make his low budgets look larger. As well, though the camp value may be something of a whisper here, it’s noticeable.

    Not all of the script works on its own terms: i.e., Lansing’s special power is supposed to come through when he wills it – but surely he wouldn’t ‘will’ to kill a doctor friend he runs to in desperation.

    A number of other moments are clunky. A ‘fave’ among these has Meriwether in scientist garb saying she needs “five minutes” to get ready for dinner. When we see her seconds later, she’s dressed and made up to the nines!

    And the love triangle aspect is rather drippy – with Meriwether telling Congdon she’s in love with him…pretty much right after meeting him.

    Caveats aside, the flick gains brisk momentum as it goes, getting better as it reaches its conclusion.

    It’s the kind of nutty enjoyment that would be good with madcap ff friends, maybe as the first part of a wacky sci-fi double feature.

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