The 27th Day

Dir: William Asher
Star: Gene Barry, Valerie French, George Voskovec, Arnold Moss

Inexplicably described in the TV guide as "intelligent" - though I guess who'd watch it, if they called it, more accurately, "ludicrous and contrived"? Five people from different countries are abducted by a humanoid alien, who tells them his planet is dying and that they want to take over Earth, but because of their moral code, won't invade. Instead, he given them each capsules, which he says are capable of destroying all human life for 3,000 miles around, saying he fully expects humanity to use them in the next 27 days. So much for that "moral code" thing. But if they don't use them, they will become inert, and the planet will be safe. Just to make things interesting though, he hijacks all TV + radio on Earth and tells the rest of the planet who they are and what they have. Definitely an interesting moral code there: in fact, I'd say this counts more as a dick move, bro'. Eve (French) and journalist Clark (Barry) hide out in a closed race-track. But with the Soviets having got their hands on a set of capsules given to their citizen, is World War III now unavoidable?

Truly a relic of the Cold War, this has not dated well, to put it mildly. I'd have been able to cope with the convoluted set-up if the results were thrilling or thought-provoking. But they aren't. Instead, there's a good deal of sitting around the race-track watching Clark and Eve fumble their way through the obvious and uninteresting sexual tension, before we get to the sabre-rattling of the Soviets. And don't even get me started on an ending, which may be among the worst ever. Given both a genre and a period which have their share of clunkers in this area, that's quite a statement, but one fully justified given the feeble excuse for a conclusion here. Admittedly, a good chunk of that is perhaps 21st-century perspective, yet you could make a very credible case that the reality of the events as described, would make the United States the worst war criminal nation in history, their acts making the Holocaust look like a dinner-party argument. The film depicts this, smugly, as a Very Good Thing. An intriguing premise turns out to be entirely still-born, and by the end, stinks worse than week-old placenta, left out in the sun.

[March 2015]

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