Tuesday, September 12, 2017

60% of Fellini

So I watched Five over the weekend. It seems to be out of print on DVD, but if you can do the streaming video thing, Amazon has it for rent or purchase.

The movie starts off with a woman (susan Douglas) shell shocked and wandering around a world that doesn't seem to have any other people in it. There's a good reason she can't find anybody else, which is that there was recently a nuclear war. She was safe because she was getting x-rayed in a lead-lined room, and that kept the rest of the radiation out. (The concussive effects of the bomb are completely overlooked.) She keeps wandering, and eventually comes across a hilltop house where there is another human being!

That man, Michael (William Phipps), eventually brings the woman, named Roseanne, out of her shell. The two set about the tedious work of foraging for food, cooking, and all those other things that suddenly become a lot more difficult when there's just been a nuclear war. It also turns out that these two aren't the only survivors. They hear what sounds like a car horn, and sure enough, two more men, black man Charles and elderly bank teller Barnstaple, show up. They were trapped in the vault, which is how they didn't get killed by the radiation. But Barnstaple has subsequently been poisoned, as he's developing dementia and some lovely physical symptoms. He insists they go to the beach, where Barnstaple dies.

And on the beach, another body washes up. This is Eric (James Anderson), who was supposedly climbing Mt. Everest when the bomb hit, which is why he was spared the reservation. He's made it to the west coast of America ridiculously quickly. He's also an overweening prick, thinking of himself as a Nietzschean superman and thinking that everybody else, especially black people, are inferior. He wants to go to the city to see if there are any survivors, and dammit, he's going to take Roseanne with him.

The movie goes on like this. It's an interesting premise, and generally done well, although there are certainly plot holes. Eric's back story makes no sense since it would take him much longer to get there from Asia than everybody else. Nobody seems to have any difficulty getting gasoline. Somehow all the buildings survived, an somehow only five humans did. No miners (as in The World, The Flesh, and the Devil); nobody on submarines (On the Beach) or in airplanes; and nobody else was getting x-rayed or in a bank vault or whatnot. The dialog is at times ridiculous, but I think that's largely because the characters are really supposed to be archetypes, and not fully fleshed out people. The story doesn't have time for that.

Five is a movie that probably deserves another DVD release, probably with The Twonky since both were directed by Arch Oboler. It's an interesting, if flawed little film.

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