Article 4987 by Dave Sindelar
Directed by Edward Dmytryk
Featuring Gregory Peck, Diane Baker, Walter Matthau
What it is: Mystery thriller
A man is disoriented when he finds himself in a skyscraper with the electricity off from which another man has fallen to his death. People he knows claim to have not seen him in a long time, and he finds himself threatened by someone known as the Major. Is he crazy? Is he the target of strange conspiracy?
This is one type of movie that I love; it starts eerily with an intriguing mystery that keeps getting deeper, and the main character must unravel the mystery to save his own life. This is a good one; because you don’t know any of the details or the rules of the situation in which he is immersed, you become as interested as he is finding out just what is going on. It’s also one of those movies where you end up trying to sort out the fantastic content; does it qualify because his situation adds a thick air of unreality to the situation, or will some element of the film clearly emerge as that content? As it so happens, a clear element does emerge in the film. Ultimately, the story involves an amazing scientific discovery, but since the discovery is used primarily as a Gizmo Maguffin, the movie remains marginal from a genre perspective. What is interesting is that it’s not the primary Maguffin of the main story, but rather, it’s the Maguffin of the story behind the story. I won’t go into any more detail than this, and I’ve been purposefully vague about a lot of this simply because this is one of those movies that is best appreciated if you go into it blind. That being said, it is an exciting and gripping movie, with excellent performances from all (especially from Matthau). This one is highly recommended.