From Terrance Fisher, director of such Hammer Studios classics as The Curse of Frankenstein (1957), Dracula (1958), and The Mummy (1959) comes the less than stellar, but still enjoyable, film, The Four Sided Triangle (1953).
This British production stars American actress Barbara Payton as Lena, James Hayter as Dr. Harvey, Stephen Murray as Bill and John Van Essyen as Robin. Payton, a once promising actress with a bright future, passed at the early age of 40 due to a series of volatile relationships and alcohol abuse.
The movie starts off by showing Lena, Robin, and Bill as youngsters, living in a small English town. The three are the best of friends, with Bill coming from a well to do family and being the practical one, Robin in a much less desirable existence with an abusive father who, along with his mother, pass early in Robin's childhood, leaving him in the care of Dr. Harvey, or 'Doc', as most call him, and Lena sort of in the middle of the two boys.
Time passes, and the boys go off to college, and Lena is taken to America. The boys return from college, and begin working on a fabulous invention, with Robin being the true inspiration behind the project. Lena also arrives, not being unable to find her place or purpose in life and returning to her childhood village. The three begin to work together, with Robin and Bill working on their invention, and Lena acting in the fashion of caretaker for the absorbed young men. Finally, Robin and Bill unveil their invention, the reproducer, a machine that has the ability to perfectly copy anything. The machine is a success, and the practical applications are astounding, but Robin, of the purely scientific mind, has become bored and decides to take the notion to the next step by 'reproducing' a living organism, despite Bill's moral objections. This is when Robin's 'mad scientist' persona really comes into its' own.
After the success of the machine, Bill and Lena announce their engagement, much to the heartbreak of Robin, who secretly harbored love for Lena, but, while able to conjure up fantastical ideas and devices, always had difficultly relating to people and dealing with interpersonal contact. After finally perfecting the process of duplicating living organisms and keeping them alive, Robin decides if he can't have Lena, then he would try to create a duplicate of her. Does it work? Well, yes and no...
Obviously a take on the Frankenstein story, this film plays out pretty well, despite its' slow build up. I really enjoyed all the spinning, whirling, popping gadgets and the tense moments at certain points within the film. There seemed to be more melodrama in the film than I would have expected, but it did serve to add to the development of the characters. At certain points, Dr. Harvey, despite meek objections, is enlisted by Robin to assist in his experiments with duplicating living creatures. This seemed a bit out of character, as I thought he would want nothing to do with this kind of thing, but instead he goes along, helping Robin down this uncertain and dangerous path. I suppose he knew Robin would proceed with or without his help, so he gave in, but I didn't see the internal struggle within the doctor I thought I would have.
Not a bad movie, and I enjoyed the marrying of the Frankenstein concept with the cloning aspect, providing some really far out ideas for people to ponder back in the time it was released. The picture quality is very good, and special features include a Hammer featurette called 'The Curse of Frankenstein', which talks about the Frankenstein genre within the world of Hammer films. Also included inside the case is a nice reproduction card of some original promotion material for the Four Sided Triangle.