For Reel

The Man Who Could Work Miracles (1936)
May 29, 2016, 2:37 pm
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: Lothar Mendes
3 Stars
The Man Who Could Work MiraclesBefore starring as the title character in the popular fantasy picture Topper, Roland Young acted alongside floating props in this adaptation of H.G. Wells’ short story The Man Who Could Work Miracles. As the title suggests, the Gods entertain an experiment that involves granting unlimited power to an unlikely haberdasher’s assistant (Young). The special effects in the early-goings are charming, aided by Young’s performance as the gobsmacked George Fotheringay, who spends his first day creating kittens out of thin air and flirting with the possibility of becoming a famous illusionist. Of course, when others learn of Fotheringjay’s abilities, he is courted by sides that wish to use him for their own monetary benefit and those that wish for him to end war and disease. Eventually, he upsets a local military man (Ralph Richardson), who shortly seeks to have him assassinated. There is a Christ allegory to be read in a man with the potential to save the world being met with hostility and human greed, and the final act takes a delicious turn into pure nihilism when Fotheringjay declares himself a supreme ruler having had enough with his fellow man. As with his performance in Things To Come, Richardson plays his role too broadly, and the film grinds to a halt in the latter half until the ending sequence. Regardless, Wells’ imagination is done justice in that the film not only presents its fantastical idea and all of its potential, but posits the philosophical questions involved.

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