4D Man (1959)

It’s hard to believe that this is a Fifties film.

It certainly doesn’t look like most of your typical Fifties SF films:  for one thing, it is in color.  I’ll admit that is hardly unknown, and even some fairly early films like Flight to Mars (1951) were in color, but it is certainly rare for that staple SF situation, scientists in a big lab making a huge new discovery.

Still, the music, the playful romance (which, yes, does lead to that expected romantic triangle) the devious office politics and even the fact that the research company is making its new super metal for military use are all signs of the new decade.

Although the more I think of it, the more it reminds me of a TV from the Sixties — The Man from U.N.C.L.E. perhaps, or Get Smart.

Perhaps the biggest asset here is Robert Lansing in his first starring role:  he was one of those remarkably talented actors who managed to make long careers for themselves on TV (many of you may remember his appearances on The Equalizer as Control).  Unfortunately, that never really translated into a movie career and he frequently got stuck in nonsense like Island Claws or Empire of the Ants. Here he has a somewhat limited role that gives him little to work with:  he’s the scientist obsessed with his project, the guy who’s angry that his girl is attracted to his brother but who won’t do anything about it, and who finally goes increasingly crazy when he becomes the inevitable monster.

Still, the effects of Robert walking through things are quite well done, and long time character actor Robert Strauss adds a lot.  It is undeniably competent and does exactly what we expect of a film like this.

Which perhaps is the problem:  it lacks that jarring and unexpected touch that lifted so many of these films above the ordinary.

And, despite the wild idea of someone who can walk through walls, and Robert’s high-tech vampirism, that does seem to be the ultimate word for this one:


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And check out our new Feature (Updated May 16, 2019):

The Rivets Zone:  The Best SF Movies You’ve Never Seen!

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