The Machine That Kills Bad People (1952)
aka La macchina ammazzacattivi
Article 5921 by Dave Sindelar
Directed by Roberto Rosselini
Featuring Gennaro Pisano, Marilyn Buferd, William Tubbs
What it is: Cautionary fable
After being visited by a wandering bearded man, a photographer discovers that his camera has been imbued with the ability to kill whoever it photographs. He decides to use it to remove evil and corrupt people from the island village where he lives.
The title would have led me to believe that the movie was science fiction, but the details put it more clearly in the realm of fantasy; in fact, it owes something to the Faust tale. The very premise hints at some of the satirical jabs that will take place in a movie like this, and you’ll be waiting for certain moments that the premise makes inevitable, such as the point where the photographer begins to realize that he himself is susceptible to vice and corruption. Though in some ways the story is predictable, it does have a real charm to it, and I love the beginning and ending of the movie where the location and characters are put into place by a giant hand manipulating the landscape. Furthermore, certain details that occur near the end of the movie did give me some pleasant surprises. I really liked this one.