Friday, December 09, 2016



A man (Peter Arne) is found floating in the Thames, alive but unresponsive, with a bullet wound. He is operated on to remove the bullet, and he actually is clinically dead for seven seconds, but recovers. However, he doesn't seem to remember who he is—and his strange responses to questioning would indicate further mental confusion. Reporter Mike Delaney (Gene Nelson) uses his paper's photo files to discover that the man is atomic scientist Stephen Rayner, and Inspector Cleary is happy to know this—until they find out that Reyner is at work, albeit with a couple of bandages on his face. Who is the recovering patient, and why, when they take pictures of him, are the photos foggy? Answers come slowly. The reason for the strange answers the man gives: because he was dead for seven seconds, his brain is seven seconds ahead of the rest of the world, so they discover he is answering questions before they are asked. The problem with the photos indicates that the patient has radiation poisoning, which leads the police to believe that the patient is the real Dr. Reyner. If so, who is the man claiming to be Reyner, and what is he up to?

This is an odd duck of a movie. Both of its titles promise science-fiction, and certainly there is a bit of that here (though the seven second gimmick seems more fantastic than scientific), but it really belongs more to the journalist-playing-detective genre. At times, it seems related to film noir (I'm thinking of KISS ME DEADLY), but it's too light in tone for that. The sci-fi aspects of the film are brought up and discarded with little impact on the overall narrative. So let’' just say this is an atomic-age thriller. As such, it's rather fun, with Nelson making a likeable leading man—and doing a nice job with his comic relief scenes—Faith Domergue as his photo-journalist girlfriend, Arne doing a nice job in a dual role. Ultimately, it's an industrial sabotage story involving (wait for it…) tungsten. Still, it's worth seeing. Pictured are Nelson and Domergue. [Streaming]

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