The Man from Yesterday (1949)

THE MAN FROM YESTERDAY (1949)
Article 2856 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 3-3-2009
Posting Date: 6-8-2009
Directed by Oswald Mitchell
Featuring John Stuart, Henry Oscar, Gwyneth Vaughan
Country: UK

The head of an English country estate invites an old friend from India to stay with him and his family for a few weeks. The friend, who claims to be an advocate of spiritualism, exudes a baleful influence over the family. Could he be digging up a skeleton in the family closet?

Henry Oscar gives a strong performance as the odd friend from India, and he has one of those faces that is fairly brimming with character. He was the force that held my interest in this movie; I wasn’t sure if he was a force for good or a force for evil, and the movie remains purposefully vague about the extent of the man’s powers (for one thing, a seance that is central to the plot is only talked about, not shown). Unfortunately, there’s the rest of the movie to reckon with; the script has some weak points, the direction is stodgy, the revelations (when they come) are disappointing, and the movie has a twist ending that will have you reaching for a rubber brick to throw at your TV set. Furthermore, Gwyneth Vaughan gives one of those mannered, snippy performances that makes her character incredibly unlikable, and she’s supposed to be the love interest. The uneven script is by John Gilling, who certainly has an interesting track record as a writer; he’s given us THE FLESH AND THE FIENDS and THE GORGON on the plus side, and TROG and THE MUMMY’S SHROUD on the other. All in all, this one was definitely a mixed bag, but, given it’s been on my hunt list for nearly seven years and only manifested itself recently, I’m glad to have seen it.

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