Timeslip (1955) (DVD review).

October 12, 2014 | By | Reply More

Directed by Ken Hughes, ‘Timeslip’ was alternatively known in the USA as ‘The Atomic Man’. A British black-and-white movie from 1955, it was made shortly after the commencement of the atomic age, a time when nuclear power and radiation were recent additions to the vocabulary of everyday people. In that respect, they could get away with virtually anything in story and plot and so they did with a man so radioactive that when he was photographed a bright aura surrounded his body. Of course, all the nurses looking after him had no protection. These were the days when people died of cancer from having luminous watches and an over-abundance of powerful x-rays.


Going back to the story, a man is shot when trying to escape pursuers but is rescued from the Thames and taken to hospital. There are a couple of things wrong with him apart from the bullet in his back, namely his ability to speak gibberish and the radiation emanating from his body. This attracts the attention of ace reporter Mike Delaney (Gene Nelson) and his girlfriend, Jill (Faith Domergue). He thinks there is a story in all of this, much to his editor’s disapproval. When he discovers that the man looks like famous nuclear scientist Dr. Rayner (Peter Arne), a problem arises when ostensibly the same man is going about business as usual in his laboratory, strangely with sticky plasters on his face from an accident. Something funny is going on, setting Delaney on a frantic path to discover the truth behind the switch. It’s a path that leads him to international espionage, murder, treachery and possible atomic destruction. The whole of London is in danger of annihilation!

The devil incarnate in the form of Vasquo, a bloated psychopath, plus his murderous henchmen and an alcoholic Nazi doctor from the concentration camps are out to destroy London. Trying to get information from the man lying in the hospital is rather difficult because he speaks nonsense. Apart from being radioactive, he died briefly on the operating table and it’s only after a lot of thought and experiment that they discover he is living out of time by precisely 7½ seconds. He answers questions before they are delivered!

With a large number of actors and the setting of dark London streets in the 1950s, it’s a movie with lots of atmosphere. Everybody has a cigarette in their hand, even the surgeon who performs operations, and you realise this is another time when people were much different from today. These were our fathers and mothers, grandfathers and grandmothers and, though it seems a long time ago, it is still not out of reach. This is a movie which connects us back to these times. However, there’s another remarkable thing about ‘Timeslip’ and that’s the actors themselves. As you would expect, none are with us today and most died towards the end of the 20th century but let’s look at some of them for a few surprises.

Ken Hughes, the director, was responsible for ‘Chitty Chitty Bang Bang’, ‘Cromwell’, ‘Casino Royale’ and ‘Drop Dead’.

The American lead actor, Gene Nelson, who played the reporter Delaney, was in ‘Oklahoma’ and lots of top rated movies. He also directed a ‘Star Trek’ episode, ‘Gamesters Of Triskelion’.

Leading lady Faith Domergue had many films to her credit including ‘This Island Earth’ and ‘It Came From Beneath The Sea’.

Peter Arne who played Dr. Rayner had a varied career. A one-time embezzler, he ended up in a huge number of movies and TV series, including ‘Danger Man’, ‘The Avengers’ and ‘Man In A Suitcase’.

Donald Gray, a prominent character called Maitland in the movie, had lost an arm during the war but went on to play Mark Saber in a long-running TV series from the 50s and 60s. He was also the voice of Colonel White, Captain Black and also the Mysterons from the TV series ‘Captain Scarlet’.

Nonetheless, that’s only the start. You will see many other familiar faces from movie and TV history, even a very recognisable face from the ‘Carry On’ films. There’s also a bit of humour here and there, especially from the bartender.

Don’t be put off by the age of the movie or even the black-and-white images because that’s part of the fun. Although this was a so-called B-movie from the era, it has stood the test of time and is still tense and exciting. Watching it is an experience of discovery. You will see a professionally directed movie with very few mistakes plus a good script with believable characters. It’s one that’s definitely recommended and well worth watching.

Also on the DVD is extra material of a collection of stills plus trailers and publicity material on PDF.

Rod MacDonald

September 2014

(region 2 blu-ray: pub: Network. 1 blu-ray 89 minute black and white film with extras. Price: £14.99 (UK). ASIN: 7954230)

cast: Gene Nelson, Faith Domergue, Peter Arne and Donald Grey

check out website: www.networkonair.com


Category: Films, Scifi

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