The Man from 1997 (1956)

THE MAN FROM 1997 (1956)
TV-Episode of “Conflict”
Article 3511 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 3-1-2011
Posting Date: 3-26-2011
Directed by Roy Del Ruth
Featuring Jacques Sernas, Gloria Talbott, Charles Ruggles
Country: USA
What it is: Fifties science fiction, TV style

An immigrant janitor stumbles upon an almanac from the year 1997 in a book shop, and believes he can win the woman of his dreams if he uses the information to make himself rich. However, there’s another man searching for the book, and he’s from the future…

I’m not quite sure if this TV episode really qualifies as a movie per se; it runs about fifty minutes without commercials. Nevertheless, it’s listed as one in the Willis guide, and so I’m covering it. Personally, I’m just glad I was able to find it. What caught my eye from the very start was seeing that it was based on a short story by Alfred Bester, one of my favorite science fiction authors and one who has rarely been adapted for the movies. I’d recently read a collection of his short stories, but I didn’t recognize the story until the twist near the end involving a dollar bill. The story is basically a fairly gentle science fiction fable, despite a subplot involving gangsters who are after the almanac; the main thrust of the story involves the man from the future trying to convince the immigrant to sell the almanac to him for a dollar in the hopes that he won’t try to use the information to make his fortune, a situation which doesn’t sit well the the immigrant’s prospective girlfriend. It’s a fun little story, and the cast also features James Garner in an early role. Incidentally, there may be an error in the IMDB listing for this episode; the character of “Man” is listed as having been played by an actor named Johnny Vlakoz, who has no other acting credits to his name, which doesn’t surprise me, since Johnny Vlakoz is actually the character name of the immigrant in the movie.

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