Prof. Tanner (George Hamilton) works at a lab that tests human limits of pain and endurance that will somehow help astronauts in their work. Arthur Nordlund (Michael Rennie) shows up at the lab for some kind of inspection. At a meeting of the department heads which includes Prof. Lansing (Suzanne Pleshette) whom Tanner is also dating, the group receives a warning from Prof. Hallson (Arthur O’Connell). Hallson has tested the IQs of everyone in the room and deduced that one of them has psychic powers, but he doesn’t know which one. It must have been a blind test. He proves it by telling everyone to try spinning a piece of paper on the table. When it spins, it proves that one of them is a psychic. But if the psychic was trying to keep their identity a secret, wouldn’t they just not spin the paper?
The next day Hallson turns up dead at the lab. He had written down the name “Adam Hart” on a scratch pad in his office, so Tanner begins investigating to find out who Hart is. He goes to Hallson’s hometown to talk to his parents and childhood friends and finds that Hart was indeed a friend of Hallson’s, but no one can remember what he looked like or produce a photograph of him. Pretty soon people are trying to kill Tanner. It seems that Hart is the mystery psychic and he has erased himself from the memories of everyone who knew him and telepathically ordered them to kill anyone who comes poking around.
There’s a trippy sequence with Tanner at a carnival where he’s not sure who to trust or if he’s going crazy. He also gets driven out into the desert and left to die. He finally returns to the lab to confront the mystery man and they have an unexpected showdown.
This movie was produced by George Pal and directed by Byron Haskin, the same duo who gave us The War of the Worlds
in 1953. It was Haskin’s last film.
There is something that seems very 1950s about this movie to me, when it comes to the men and their acting and their fashions at least. But Tanner also takes Lansing to a cocktail party where the atmosphere struck me as more 60s.
This movie is a bit slow and visually it’s fairly standard which is probably why it stood out to me there were a few nice shot compositions. I’ve already forgotten most of them but I do remember one where Tanner is framed so the camera only sees him from above the waist and you can’t tell what he’s doing with his hands but the shadow on the wall behind him reveals that he’s pulling a knife out of his pocket. They saved all of the special effects for the final psychic showdown.
is based on the novel of the same name by Frank M. Robinson which came out in May of 1956. In June of 1956, it was adapted into an episode of the Studio One
anthology series. That’s a pretty fast turnaround but the novel was a re-release of a story that had already been printed in magazine form.