Plot: What’s it about?
Lena (Barbara Payton) has been friends with Bill Leggat (Stephen Murray) and Robin Grant (John Van Eyssen) since they were all children and the whole time both men vied for the attention and affections of Lena. Over time Lena has never been pushed to make a decision between the two, but on the eve of taking their biggest accomplishment public, she finally chooses one over the other. The three have been working on a very powerful device, one which can reproduce anything you can imagine and the work has finally concluded, with the invention now a reality. As the celebrate, Lena informs the two that she has fallen in love with Robin and will spend her life with him. Bill tries to take it as well as he can, but it crushes his spirit and drives him into a depression. Bill soon finds himself alone when Lena and Robin take their honeymoon, and he decided to use the device to bring himself happiness, in the form of another Lena. When Lena returns she agrees to the plan in order to help Bill overcome his depression, but the two never consult Robin on the idea. So after some intense work, Bill creates a duplicate of Lena exact in every way and names her Helen. While Bill thinks he has discovered true bliss with Helen, he soon discovers that she might be a little too much like Lena…
When it comes to Hammer movies most people think of horror films, but this is an example of Hammer handling another genre quite well. Many of the same elements are present here in the form of well executed atmosphere and suspense, but this is much different from your normal Hammer fare. Now I love the Hammer horror classics even more than the next guy, but this is one I like even more than most of the horror films Hammer issued. This movie catches a lot of heat from those Hammer lovers who depend on the horror side of things, but I feel it is every bit as intriguing as any shadowy creature movie. The main reason people dislike this film is the pace, which is deliberate and somewhat slow. So if you’re one with a short attention span this movie might put you to sleep, but if you like well crafted and complex, somewhat slowly developing storylines this film should take care of your needs. I think the overall storyline is excellent and although the limits of the era keep it from being as visually stunning as it could be these days, this is one terrific movie to be sure. I recommend this film as a rental to those interested in the storyline, but fans will want to purchase this release to add to their Hammer collections.
This film was directed by Hammer regular Terence Fisher, who also helped pen the screenplay with Paul Tabori. Fisher is a master of his craft and he helped solidify Hammer as a force in the horror genre. While this isn’t a horror movie per se, Fisher still uses many similar elements from his horror movies to create an effective atmosphere. The placement and motion of the cameras are excellent and really set an appropriate visual tone for the movie. If you want some fantastic horror movies to check out, Fisher has many for your perusal including Frankenstein Created Woman, Dracula: Prince Of Darkness, The Curse Of Frankenstein, The Two Faces Of Dr. Jekyll, and Horror Of Dracula. While the somewhat unemotional performances of the leads in this film turn some off, I think they seem to fit the characters and tone of the film quite well. Stephen Murray (Pygmalion, The End Of The Affair) and John Van Eyssen (Quartermass 2) give solid turns as the friends torn between one woman, and Barbara Payton (The Pecos Pistol) makes it easy to see why these men would haggle over her character. In a strong supporting role, James Hayter (Tv’s Are You Being Served?) often steals scenes right away from the major players.
Video: How does it look?
Four Sided Triangle is presented in a 1.33:1 or full frame transfer, which retains the film’s original aspect ratio. This film is almost fifty years old so it shows some signs of age, but this transfer manages to offer a fine visual presentation. The source print has some nicks and flecks but this is to be expected of a film this old, and I feel given the materials they had Anchor Bay has issued an acceptable transfer. This is a black & white movie and as such the contrast is of supreme importance. This transfer shows no problems, with solid shadow layering and no detail loss to be seen. While the film grain and print damage do drag down the rating, fans will be pleased with the improvement over previous releases.
Audio: How does it sound?
The original mono track is used and turns out to be quite a nice one. The musical score is excellent and very effective, and this mix ensures it sounds crisp and distortion free. This was a little surprising, given than many older mono tracks I’ve heard have somewhat distorted musical tracks. The sounds effects also sound good in this mix and never become overpowered by the other elements. The dialogue is the focus of this track and it also sounds terrific, with consistent volume and no separation issues.
Supplements: What are the extras?
This release contains a “World Of Hammer” episode entitled The Curse Of Frankenstein, which details the various mad scientists that have appeared in Hammer’s films. This one isn’t as interesting as some of the other “World Of Hammer” episodes, but it does provide some entertainment and peeks at future titles to come. I was sad to see that neither a commentary or theatrical trailer was included, but I guess you can’t win them all…