The Power (1968)


This film was beautifully directed by camera whiz Byron Haskin, and it has a fine literate script, one of the best supporting casts ever assembled for a sci-fi movie and very good production values. The question is why the critics did not appreciate it. I believe the answer is simple: they also disliked “Star Trek” TOS, and “The Voyage Home,” “Dimension V”, and all other sci-fi. They ignore the genre despite or because of the fact it is a medium of ideas–and their conventional view is that movies can ‘t deal with explicit definitions– because their sort trying to make idea movies have failed so miserably most of the time. The plot line in this movie is very simple to state; a man discovers he has extra sensory perception and telekinetic powers; then he finds he is being stalked by a man with the same power, probably much greater, who must eliminate him to avoid having his existence exposed, his nefarious plans stopped. The logical and well-scripted scenario from Frank M. Robinson’s’ famous novel was done by John Gay; and Miklos Rzsa supplied wonderfully eerie music. In the cast supporting an OK but too-young George Hamilton and Suzanne Pleshette are such talents as the great Michael Rennie, Yvonne de Carlo, Aldo Ray, Vaughn Taylor, Nehemiah Persoff, Richard Carlson, Earl Holliman, Miiko Taka, Celia Lovsky, Ken Murray, Lawrence Montaigne, Barbara Nichols and Arthur O’Connell. Primary Credit for this fine and serious production must go to producer George Pal; the only mystery to this sci-fi mystery is why moviegoers, arguably less bewildered than most critics about what is an entertaining script have believed the critics and not their own eyes; I saw the film when it was first released, admired it as a writer then, and still do. I do not believe I am wrong in any way about its professional or cinematic merits. The moment when O’Connell tries to escape the bad guy and finds his office door is part of a solid wall, turned into a death trap by his opponent, is shattering; and the climactic duel of the film and its surprise outcome cannot be forgotten, as I can testify. Kudos to all concerned; if Keith Andes had played the lead in this instead of Hamilton, it might have received the attention that all concerned, especially Pal and Haskin and Rozsa so richly deserve.