12:01 PM (1990)

Richard A. Lupoff, who wrote the original story on which this short film was based, considered suing the makers of Groundhog Day for plagiarizing his story.

It is easy to see why.

The idea is very similar, with a man who realizes he is living the same hour of his life over and over again.  However, this close adaptation of the original story, has a far more science-fictional edge than the Bill Murray vehicle – and a decidedly downbeat ending.

It was one of a handful of films made for the Showtime 30-Minute Movie anthology series and it feels like a superior episode of The Twilight Zone – only without Serling’s heavy handed moralizing and predictable unpredictable twists.

Kurtwood Smith, taking a break from his typically villainous roles, holds this film together with an increasingly desperate performance as an ordinary guy who seems to be the only one who knows that the world has just ended.  He brings this film the solidity and believability such a fantastic concept demands

A few years later, this film would be spun out at much greater length in 12:01, an entirely excellent TV movie which doesn’t have much to do with either this or the original story.

Of course, as it came out the same year as Groundhog Day, we know exactly why it got made.  But it is still worth seeing on its own merits.

As is this earlier film.

(For more short film reviews, see here.)

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