4D Man – USA, 1959

‘He walks through walls of solid steel and stone!’

4D Man – aka The Evil Force (UK); Master of Terror (US reissue) – is a 1959 American science fiction film directed by Irvin S. Yeaworth Jr. (Dinosaurus!; The Blob, 1958) from a screenplay by Theodore Simonson and Cy Chermak. It was produced by Jack H. Harris (The Blob franchise; Schlock; Equinox) and stars Robert Lansing, Lee Meriwether, and James Congdon.

The Fairview production was released in the U.S. by Universal-International.

Brilliant but irresponsible scientist Tony Nelson (James Congdon) develops an electronic amplifier that he hopes will allow any object to achieve a 4th dimensional (4D) state. While in this state any object can pass freely through any other object.

Tony, however, fails to pay attention to the overload, which sparks an electrical fire that burns down his lab. This results in the university terminating his contract. Now unemployed, Tony seeks out his brother Scott (Robert Lansing) to help him with his experiment…

Reviews:

“Yeaworth’s direction is unsteady; some of the blocking results in odd eyelines, (Meriwether somehow ends up looking cross-eyed in her first glamour close-up!) and there are as many static scenes as there are dynamic ones. But the non-Hollywood effort is refreshing in its lack of slickness.”Glenn Erickson, DVD Savant

“It’s especially good in developing the characters; you’d expect bold, daring Tony to end up as the man who can walk through walls, but instead, it’s dull ol’ Scott. And yet the script carefully prepares us for this as well. The special effects of Lansing passing through walls, chairs, even people, are bold and imaginative, but always give themselves away with a visible matte line.” Bill Warren, Audio Video Revolution

“The character of Scott Nelson (excellently played by Robert Lansing) is so well established and the circumstances of his situation so well set forth that you understand fully why he takes to crime once he develops his abilities; these decisions don’t seem arbitrary or convenient.” Dave Sindelar, Fantastic Movie Musings and Ramblings

“First, there’s the acting, which exhibits that same mix of wildly excessive over- and underacting that characterized the original Star Trek series, though admittedly not to such jaw-dropping degrees. Second, and perhaps more importantly, 4D Man is saddled with what must surely be the most utterly inappropriate background music in the history of cinematic science fiction. Every single scene unfolds to the distracting accompaniment of cacophonous beatnik jazz.” Scott Ashlin, 1000 Misspent Hours and Counting

” …the effects work in particular is very good. The film has an original and interesting idea, even if it is given a series of absurd explanations with nonsense about time being speeded up somehow allowing objects to pass through one another. Irvin S. Yeaworth gives it a scary, suspenseful edge.” Richard Scheib, Moria

“The disparity between the vitality of the younger characters and Scott’s corruption of that same thing proves surprisingly effective for what was a B-movie, but as with The Blob it was the pleasing simplicity of the central notion which made this interesting. Unexpectedly loud jazz score by Ralph Carmichael.” Graeme Clark, The Spinning Image

“This is a plausible bit of scientific hocus, and the compact story has enough to please the majority.” Kine Weekly“Rather too much of an emphasis on a hackneyed romance tends to hold up the proceedings but the film moves briskly enough, the idea is well used and the special effects effective.” Alan Franks, The Science Fiction and Fantasy Handbook, Batsford, 1982

Cast and characters:

  • Robert Lansing … Dr. Scott Nelson – The NestMonsters TV series; Island ClawsEmpire of the Ants; The Evil Touch TV series; Journey to the Unknown TV series
  • Lee Meriwether … Linda Davis – The Munsters Today TV Series; Batman: The Movie (1966)
  • James Congdon … Dr. Tony Nelson – When Worlds Collide
  • Robert Strauss … Roy Parker – The Munsters TV series
  • Edgar Stehli … Dr. Theodore W. Carson
  • Patty Duke … Marjorie Sutherland – Grave Secrets: The Legacy of HilltopDriveAmityville 4: The Evil EscapesThe SwarmCurse of the Black WidowLook What’s Happened to Rosemary’s Baby?; Night Gallery TV series
  • Guy Raymond … Fred
  • Chic James … B-girl
  • Elbert Smith … Captain Rogers
  • George Karas … Sgt. Todaman
  • Jasper Deeter … Dr. Welles
  • Dean Newman … Dr. Brian Schwartz
  • John Benson … reporter

Image credits: The B-Movie Catechism

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