AVAILABLE ON BLU-RAY AND DVD
RUNNING TIME: 81 min
REVIEWED BY: Dr Lenera, Official HCF Critic
In a cosy English village, Bill Legget and Robin Grant are boyhood friends who compete for the affections of Lena Maitland, a beautiful girl about their own age. Some years later, Lena goes away but returns to the village in adulthood and goes to see her two old friends, reviving their childhood feelings. Bill is now a scientist, and has created a machine called the Reproducer that can exactly duplicate physical objects. Robin goes away to learn his family’s business, and Bill decides to tell Lena of his feelings towards her, but on the evening of Robin’s return Bill hears that Robin has proposed to Lena and they are getting married….
If you can see a few signs of many of Terence Fisher’s horror pictures in Stolen Face, you can see even more of them in Four Sided Triangle, which, though not really a horror film, virtually plays like a dry run for his Frankenstein films especially Frankenstein Created Woman. Even some of the laboratory equipment looks the same, while the Reproducer was virtually reproduced in The Fly. Four Sided Triangle begins rather awkwardly. The device of having the village doctor narrate works in terms of providing a kind of moral conscience to the proceedings, but his narration takes forever to go away and is filled with quotes from the Bible and others which strengthen the strong moral view the story takes [humans must not play God etc.] but get a bit annoying. The film really comes into its own though with the laboratory scenes, which are vividly directed with some unusual angles, evocatively scored by Malcolm Arnold, and even vaguely convincing with the combining of realistic gadgetry with purely make-believe stuff. As would often be the case with Fisher’s later films, the main gimmick doesn’t really happen until over half way through, with Bill deplicating Lena for himself when it becomes apparent he can’t have her.
The philosophical, psychological and emotional [this is quite a cool, distant film despite it partly being a weird love story] aspects are not as developed as they perhaps would be in a newer film, but Paul Tabori’s screenplay, based on a novel by Wiliam F. Temple, still contains some interesting food for thought surprisingly deep for a ‘B’ quickie of the time. Sadly the film weakens a little towards the end with some very contrived occurrences [the first Hammer fire climax!] and characters behaving in a bizarre manner, and Fisher doesn’t seem much interested in upping the pace towards the end. Barbara Payton was in the previous Hammer movie Bad Blonde and seems a little lost in her very different role here, but the performances are generally sturdy if a bit low-key for the subject matter and James Hayter even looks a bit like Peter Cushing [and Liam Neeson!] at times. Even if you haven’t seem too interested in the Hammer films I’ve reviewed so far [and I am trying to get through all the ones that are available to buy] and are impatient for me to get onto the Gothic classics, Four Sided Triangle, which is included in the Region B Curse Of Frankenstein Blu-ray/DVD combo set, is one early Hammer that you should really check out to get a sense of the direction Hammer’s films were going in, and, while it could certain ly be more exciting, it really is quite intriguing.