Timeslip

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(5/10) The last of actress Faith Domergue’s three science fiction movies of 1955 was a British quota quickie. Released as The Atomic Man in the US, it concerns two journalists investigating the case of a radioactive man who gets pulled back from death on the operating table and seems to be out of sync with time, all while his doppelgänger is involved with secret and potentially dangerous nuclear experiments. The sci-fi is underdeveloped, the science laughable and the script flawed, but entertaining and even exciting. Ken Hughes directs solidly and the acting is excellent.

Faith Domergue and Gene Nelson as reporters and lovers in Timeslip.

Faith Domergue and Gene Nelson as reporters and lovers in Timeslip.

Timeslip (1955, UK). Directed by Ken Hughes. Written by Charles Eric Maine. Starring: Gene Nelson, Faith Domergue, Peter Arne, Joseph Tomelty, Donald Gray, Vic Perry. Produced by Alec C. Snowden for Merton Park Studios.
IMDb score: 5.5/10. Tomatometer: N/A. Metascore: N/A.

DVD sleeve.

DVD sleeve.

In 1955 science fiction still hadn’t really caught on with British movie producers. But the trend was pointing upwards. A change happened in 1953 when BBC made the live-aired TV series The Quatermass Experiment (review), in which an astronaut returns from space, and begins mutating into a dangerous alien life-form that he has been infected with. The series became a phenomenon, and soon thereafter British quota quickie companies started making cheap sci-fi movies, such as Spaceways (1953, review), Devil Girls from Mars (1954, review) and Stranger from Venus (1955, review). They were seldom masterpieces, but never complete turds, either. However, with the exception of The Quatermass Experiment (review), it feels like British producers weren’t quite sure about how to handle sci-fi, and often bungled the sci-fi element in favour of weak romantic plots or an over-emphasis on classic film noir trappings. Such is partly the case with Timeslip, which was released as The Atomic Man in the US, but it is nevertheless one of the better sci-fi quota quickies. Continue reading

Spaceways

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(3/10) In a nutshell: This is the oldest surviving British space flight film, produced by Hammer Films and directed by Terence Fisher. The low-budget production mixes a murder whodunnit with a love triangle and a spy thriller, and despite the name, most of it’s a pretty mundane and Earth-bound programmer. Featuring Eva Bartok and American hunk Howard Duff and some very good English talent. Visual effects innovator Les Bowie doesn’t have the budget to do anything fun. A messy script with moon-sized plot holes don’t help things along. A mildly entertaining run.

Spaceways (1953). Directed by Terence Fisher. Written by Paul Tabori & Richard H. Landau. Based on the radio play Spaceways by Charles Eric Maine. Starring: Howard Duff, Eva Bartok, Alan Wheatley, Philip Leaver, Michael Medwin, Andrew Osborn, Cecile Chevreau. Produced by Michael Carreras for Hammer Films and Lippert Pictures. IMDb score: 5.1/10

Eva Bartok as Dr. Lisa in Hammer's Spaceways.

Eva Bartok as Dr. Lisa in Hammer’s Spaceways.

”An interesting little curio” seems to be the collective opinion on this British mishmash of a film from 1953. Hammer Films had not yet become the powerhouse of gory Technicolor horror it was destined to be – The Curse of Frankenstein was still four years away. Instead, the small company focused mainly on churning out so-called quota quickies to satisfy legally binding cinema quotas of British films. Most of Hammer’s output consisted of cheaply made spy or murder thrillers logged down by romantic dramas. But the studio was also taking tentative steps toward science fiction. Continue reading