The Power (1968)

Synopsis:

A group of scientists studying space flight fatigue are targeted by an individual who has ability to kill with his/her mind. Who is the unstoppable killer?

Reaction & Thoughts:

They say that power corrupts, and that absolute power. I wonder…”

This glossy George Pal production is one of the first mainstream films to deal with telekinesis. Because of its government conspiracy subplot, The Power also anticipates the paranoia thrillers of the Watergate-era. Add a touch of Agatha Christie to the story and you get a suspenseful, very entertaining thriller with fantasy elements.

John Gay’s (No Way to Treat a Lady and Soldier Blue) script does a good job of keeping the story grounded in reality. The science depicted in the movie — NASA is studying the effects of long-term space travel — seems plausible. Although the film’s plot gets a bit convoluted, the ending clarified a number of things I found a tad hockey. Director Byron Haskin (The Naked Jungle) never allows the pace to lag.

As usual, producer Pal didn’t cut corners and hired the best team that money could buy. Production values are top-notch. Best of all is Miklós Rózsa’s (Double Indemnity, The Lost Weekend, and Spellbound) throbbing music score. Rózsa relies heavily on a cimbalom and the result is pretty awesome. Rózsa’s music does tend to sound like grand opera, but I don’t mind bombastic soundtracks.

The cast is filled with familiar faces. George Hamilton (Love at First Bite) has the main role, but this is really an ensemble piece. Suzanne Pleshette (The Birds) is Prof. Margery Lansing, Yvonne De Carlo (TV’s The Munsters) is Mrs. Sally Hallson, Earl Holliman (TV’s Police Woman) is Prof. Talbot Scott, Gary Merrill (All About Eve) is Detective Mark Corlane, Michael Rennie (The Day Earth Stood Still) is Arthur Nordlund and Arthur O’Connell (Picnic) is Prof. Henry Hallson. Aldo Ray (Battle Cry) and Barbara Nichols (Sweet Smell of Success) have cameos.

Conclusions & Final Thoughts:

The Power is a bit darker than Pal’s previous movies, who usually made family-oriented movies. At times it feels like a Stephen King story, but the movie does have a good message — “absolute power corrupts absolutely” — that older kids will appreciate. It’s an engaging and entertaining movie. Color, 108 minutes, Rated PG.

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