The Secret of the Telegian [Densô ningen] (1960)

Let’s face it.  You could take the science fictional elements out of this one and barely change the story.

A group of former World War II soldiers who share a guilty secret — and a treasure they stole together — are murdered one by one by a mysterious man in a soldier’s uniform.  Could he possibly be the man they murdered fifteen years ago, seeking his revenge?

However, just to complicate things, when the police try to catch him, the mysterious assassin disappears without a trace, leaving only burning buildings behind — although only after a long chase!

He also has an odd, staticky glow about him, although the Imperial Army issue bayonet he uses to murder his victims seems real enough.

The secret, which I think was given away by the posters…and for that matter by the American title, is that he is using a teleporter.  Although, one of the odd details is that he actually needs a second unit to send him back, even if he doesn’t seem to be all there.  Somehow, it would have been simpler if they’d just let him beam back without needing a complex piece of equipment which he has to destroy after he returns.  However, to be fair, prior to Star Trek, everyone figured you needed a receiver if you were going to transmit matter.

The only reason the Enterprise didn’t need a receiver was basically practical:  they invented the transporter to save the whole business of prepping the shuttle every time they sent someone to the surface of a new planet.  When you only have a little over fifty minutes to tell a story, it’s handy if you don’t have to spend all your time on the commute!

Toho Studios released this one around the time of The H Man and The Human Vapor, both of which share Densô ningen‘s crime drama elements.  Certainly none of them much resemble Toho’s typical Kaiju Eiga movies, and this one falls even further from the familiar model than any of the others.  One might find a Police Detective as the main character of a Toho monster epic, as in Dogora, but somehow one doesn’t find crime bosses, drug gangs or (as in this film) war profiteers in your typical Godzilla film.

However, we do end with a (small). secret laboratory, a not-particularly mad scientist, and a sudden, science fictional demise for our sympathetic murderer.

This is a well made Toho effort, with the professional polish that was typical of their films of the era.  it may be a tad bit slow in places, but is generally interesting, even if many of its surprises are fairly obvious.

But for those interested in the studio’s Kaiju output, it is a minor footnote at best.



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