Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

FIVE

Susan Douglas and William Phipps
FIVE (1951). Writer/Producer/Director: Arch Oboler.

After an atomic holocaust, five strangers who survived for various reasons, find themselves sharing a cliff house [actually designed by Frank Lloyd Wright] in an isolated area. Roseanne (Susan Douglas) is pregnant and still hoping that her husband, Steven, is alive. Michael (William Phipps) is developing romantic feelings for Roseanne. Oliver Barnstaple (Earl Lee) and Charles (Charles Lampkin), worked together at a bank, while late arrival Eric (James Anderson), who climbed Mount Everest to find civilization gone, is a racist who can't deal with the presence of Charles. Eric wants to explore the city for its bounty, while Michael feels they are better off and safer where they are. The best scenes have Roseanne and Eric exploring the city, full of skeletons, and finding out what happened to Steven. [The city is deserted when it should be in utter ruin.] This is by no means a bad movie -- the music and especially the photography are excellent -- but it becomes melodramatic and at its heart has a conventional sensibility. There is a heavy-handed religiosity at times, as well. The actors are good: Phipps had a long, long list of credits; Douglas did a lot of TV work. James Anderson, who seems to be doing a bad imitation of Charles Boyer in this, also appeared in many films and TV shows. Five was Lampkin's first credit and he appeared on any TV shows later on. The opening moments of Five, showing a deadly mist covering everything, are quite effective, but the movie itself just misses.

Verdict: An admirable attempt but there's something lacking. **1/2.

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