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

Thursday, May 11, 2017


Richard Burton 
THE MEDUSA TOUCH (1978). Director: Jack Gold.

A writer named Morlar (Richard Burton) is found apparently beaten to death in his London apartment, but Inspector Brunel (Lino Ventura) is shocked to discover that Morlar is still alive. In the intensive care unit, the doctors hold out little hope, but then Morlar's brain activity begins to register. Hoping to find out who assaulted the man, Brunel questions Morlar's psychiatrist, Ms. Zonfled (Lee Remick), who tells him that her patient insists he's responsible for a series of terrible tragedies. Is Morlar merely a quilt-wracked neurotic, or does he truly possess amazing and deadly telekinetic abilities that can send airliners crashing into buildings? What do you think? Morlar has a social conscience, hates the establishment, and has essentially turned into a terrorist. The Medusa Touch certainly tells an interesting story, but the way it's told -- with too many flashbacks and a rather slow pace, not to mention a dragged out final quarter -- works against it. The film recovers a bit with the exciting and well-handled destruction of a Cathedral at the climax. Burton's performance, while not among his most notable, is suitably intense; Lee Remick is good, although she underplays too much at times; and there are interesting performances from Derek Jacobi [The King's Speech] as Burton's publisher; Jeremy Brett [Young and Willing] as one of Morlar's wife's paramours; and Harry Andrews [Sands of the Kalahari] as Brunel's supervisor; among others. It may seem strange that Italian-born Lino Ventura is cast as a French inspector visiting England, but Ventura was raised in France where he became a well-known character actor. The Power is a better film with a similar theme.

Verdict: Quite interesting, but just misses being a superior thriller. **1/2.


angelman66 said...

Boy, did Burton make some below-par films in the 1970s!! This one is not as bad as Exorcist II The Heretic, though! I do agree that the later film The Power handles this subject matter far better.

Thank God Burton redeemed his career at the end with the wonderful Equus, which I believe he originated on Broadway before filming with Sidney Lumet.

William said...

I think it came to be that Burton loved his liquor more than he did Liz or his acting career. Sad, because he was very talented.