An intriguing amalgamation of the cold war spy and SF genres…
Many people have seen that famous Two Ronnies Mastermind skit, where Ronnie C’s specialist subject is answering the question before last (which got an update in a recent episode of David Walliams’ Big School); this B movie from 1955 (also known as The Atomic Man) is built round a conceit that’s the reverse of that – the journalist looking into a man who died for seven and a half seconds (and who appears to be highly radioactive) discovers that he’s answering the question posed seven and a half seconds later! It’s a shame that the idea isn’t taken further – or even followed through properly in the film: one of the doctors notes that the patient blinks seven and a half seconds before he shone the light in his eyes, but otherwise the patient reaches for things at the time you’d expect.
Otherwise this is a pretty standard Cold War thriller: a man is attacked and hospitalised, dying for a short time, but then starting to recover (albeit with the odd affliction described above). Our hero, a journalist for You magazine (!), believes that he’s a key scientist, but the scientist is at work exactly as normal. Investigations prove that something very fishy is going on, particularly as the scientist is working on what a policeman rightly describes as an alchemical idea, which could wreak havoc with the world’s economy if it’s successful.
The science in Timeslip is laughable – listen to the theory as to what the scientist’s prolonged exposure to radiation has done to him, or the scene where various medical personnel try to come up with an explanation and cure for the eponymous condition – but it is a MacGuffin, and frankly, the movie doesn’t need its science fiction element to work.
Gene Nelson, Faith Domergue and Peter Arne all take the story very seriously, making it into a surprisingly entertaining 90 minutes – and listen out for Captain Scarlet’s Colonel White, Donald Gray, in a small role. Casino Royale and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang’s Ken Hughes gives the movie some style, and Network have cleaned up the movie nicely.
Verdict: Nothing to do with the later 1970s TV show; just ignore the incredibly dodgy science and enjoy a slice of 1950s hokum. 7/10