“Fraulein, would you like to watch Die Nibelungen Saga (1924) tonight, or The Power (1967)?,” the Nietzschean Nazi skinhead asked to the gay transgender or transvestite prostitute who he accidentally picked up in a scene right out of The Kinks song Lola… Eddie Murphy gave one “a ride home” one evening! … Yes, they are all a part of the philosophy of Germany’s Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900 stroke/syphilis/pneumonia) who gave us the term Superman and “God is Dead” about his atheist philosophy and alternative to Christianity which brought such phrases as the “the Will to Power” and the term “what doesn’t kill me will make me stronger” forever into the public consciousness. This hapless philosopher inspired Adolf Hitler to write his Anti-Semitic manifesto Mein Kampf (or Me in Camp F as the transvestite laughed) and his godless regime led by former Catholics who may try again to take over the world… for a short spell anyway.
So, the title The Power (1967 – that’s what’s on the copyright), which is one of the last major movies by master directors and producers George Pal (1908-80 heart attack) and Byron Haskin (1899-1984), is possibly taken from The Will to Power while another of Nietzsche’s book titles which also summed up his atheism is The Gay Science…
It’s no wonder that tricker, in terms of fake news, Orson Welles (1915-85 heart attack) who scared everyone to death back in 1938 with a Martian Invasion broadcast later lamented the fact that the word ‘gay’ had also been hijacked by the homosexuals when it meant something entirely different before its ‘perversion’ as it had and still does mean “carefree and merry” to those young souls or pretty young things brought up or caught up in a world or the whirlwind of youth before the burden of responsibility and/or the stigma of poverty and other things becomes a reality… Earth calling Orson, there’s was and is another reality. Some ‘gay’ scientists don’t really grow up, whether they are Adolf, Orson or homosexual and some possibly think carefree and merry should be their known partying lifestyle choice. It’s still seems to be a philosophy in itself today to be merry on more than just Xmas day…
The movie entitled The Power is the reclamation of the name of the Nietzschean Superman as opposed to the one that wears a blue leotard and the rehabilitation and of a philosophy which I don’t think anyone can really adhere to all the time, just like A Christian can’t believe in God non-stop 24 hours a day… Some atheists and/or agnostics revert back to believing in God… at times. And vice versa. The Power shows and is symbolic in that Germany’s perversion of the Nazi’s of World War Two can be healed along with the individual through physical and mental atonement and this film restores the fact that many races and civilizations existed in Europe ‘in the beginning’ before The Bible and Me in Kamp F. The Power… to survive. ‘They’ were and are sh*t otherwise in this world of controlled effluent… Don’t be an unenlightened one or married to one!
There’s a line in the movie The Saint of Fort Washington (1993) in which Matt Dillon (1964-) plays a homeless schizophrenic character named Matt who meets and befriends a homeless black Vietnam veteran played by Danny Glover (1946-), whom he tells he believes in God “sometimes”. Glover returns with: “I know, sometimes he’s here, sometimes he’s not” as he produces a medication tablet which he says in the meantime is “the closest thing you’ll find to God” especially when you are mentally ill or soul sick, or in physical pain and living in poverty. As a result, there’s an AC/DC element to sometimes believing in a God beyond and believing in ‘The Gay Science’ that God is dead. Some don’t have the luxury of a home with a vacuum cleaner (an AC/DC band joke) to foster and nurture a constant belief in God… or the spiritual loneliness and vacuum that exists in a home without one!
The Power is also about the possibility of nasty people killing other people with just the use of their mind to induce a heart attack through palpitations or arrythmia – even though the thought of telekinesis may seem perhaps a trifle ridiculous when suggested in this movie. It is a symbolic concept. And are these things all done by a Superman who has skipped a hundred generations? Or is it your brother, or partner or your neighbour down the street who has an evil bent? Is it witchcraft by a lover? Or plain bad genetics and the power of psychosomatic self-suggestion? They are all pondered in this movie which is forgotten and which I hope to resurrect even if it isn’t the greatest movie on Earth… It inspired Cronenberg’s Scanners (1981) and is also symbolic in terms of its contracted cast members.
The cast is fantastic in terms of sci-fi and the movie was shot in April 1967 the month I was born and the cast then disbanded like some club as the film hints almost at a ‘tontine’ in terms of its surviving cast members… Among them are several key actors from the explosion of sci-fi titles which resulted in the 1950s after nuclear proliferation among the Superpowers became irreversible. The film itself is a celebration of those early years, and as a result, the opening cue in the movie is taken from the attacking giant ants in Them! (1954). We have star Richard Carlson (1912-77 cerebral haemorrhage) from It Came from Outer Space (1953) and the phallic Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954) – yes it’s scary some black L.A. goons are bigger, longer and uncut to quote South Park – while director Byron Haskin had made War of the Worlds (1953) together with The Power producer George Pal. The pair are celebrated for their contribution to the world of cult science fiction movies… Haskin’s work includes, apart from the pirates of Treasure Island (1950), the films Conquest of Space (1955) and Robinson Crusoe on Mars (1964). Pal on the other hand produced Destination Moon (1950), and the world can get its act together when it need be movie When World’s Collide (1951) and also directed The Time Machine (1960).
Other stars of The Power include Michael Rennie (1909-71 heart attack) who was the peaceful alien who was almost assassinated in The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951) and who played one of the first androids in the underrated time travel movie which James Cameron has yet to acknowledge influenced his The Terminator (1981) – Cyborg 2087 (1966). Then there’s Arthur O’Connell (1908-81 Alzheimer’s disease) who had played a conniving businessman who always runs on the anti-corruption ticket and always wins in the George Pal directed 7 Faces of Dr. Lao (1964) which mixes wisdom with comedy effectively. O’Connell was also in the cult film prediction of possible nanotechnology in Fantastic Voyage (1966) which inspired the very funny Joe Dante directed movie Innerspace (1987) as opposed to outer space. Innerspace featured actor Kevin McCarthy (1914-2010 pneumonia) who was seen running around madly at the end of Don Siegel’s Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956) waving his hands and warning us about evil seed pod people turning ordinary God-fearing citizens into possibly Godless socialists/communists. Don’t worry, just like the Covid vaccine you won’t feel a thing!! Anyway, you never know, the seed people may convert to Christianity or suffer from that AC/DC of belief in terms of God being present and then going missing for a moment… Nobody’s perfect! Not even a pod person.
The Power is set in an institute where scientists study how the human body can survive under enormous physical pressure in terms of the elements and the effects of extreme cold and heat, which is becoming more relevant as the desert around Palm Springs hit 57 degrees Celsius the other week… Anyway, it may all come down to genetics and that also includes the mind and possibility of it evolving into something which the scientists haven’t proposed …
“We’re all being watched by the unknown – the Super unknown,” says a paranoid scientist played by O’Connell who obviously doesn’t believe in God since he’s been quoting Nietzsche’s work and isn’t getting laid at home as his wife, who is played by Lily from The Munsters (1964-66), as opposed to Lili from The Windsors – in other words Yvonne de Carlo (1922-2007 heart failure). De Carlo had a steady career in horror movies often very black ones in terms of comedy in the late 1970s and throughout the 1980s and was good in bed even past her middle age if you are to believe actor Frank Langella’s memoir Dropped Names.
Anyway, O’Connell says at the institute’s committee meeting in a rather desperate and exasperated fashion that there is someone among them who filled out an IQ test and whose intelligence is monstrously big – and bigger than anyone else’s on the entire planet and this Superman or Woman could possibly kill you with a projected thought… all this stress will lead to O’Connell having vascular dementia and arrythmia in his office rather than in bed with his wife or ex-wife de Carlo who lives with him in a trailer… But meanwhile the committee, which seems to exist only to torture test subjects in the name of science decide Ouija board style to see if anyone wants to claim they are the smartest and most powerful person in the room by using a psi wheel of a pencil with a piece of paper stuck on it, the theory being that the paper be spun around through telekinesis.
Richard Carlson has explained the premise of the institute being about “why certain men are successful… the ones that do survive” with a wink to visitor Michael Rennie instead of a secret handshake and “what factors come into play” which seems to rhyme with the tontine joke of the ‘actors in this play’.
I’ll just explain that a tontine is a pooling of money where the last survivor in the contract receives all the funds. It was used to comedic effect the previous year in the all-star cast British movie The Wrong Box (1966) which was based on a novel co-written by Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-94 cerebral haemorrhage while opening a bottle of wine) who wrote Treasure Island. Byron Haskin directed the 1950 version of the movie as well as the Australian version which followed later entitled Long John Silver (1954) starring that drinker of note Robert Newton (1905-56 heart attack) who was the inspiration for fellow imbibers Keith Moon (1946-58 drug and alcohol overdose) and Oliver Reed (1938-99 heart attack during a drinking competition) in terms of a lifestyle choice.
Then there’s actress Susan Pleshette (1937-2008 lung cancer from smoking), who was the possibly lesbian oriented or the ‘I don’t care’ oriented Annie Hayworth in Hitchcock’s The Birds (1963), who says after one attempt at spinning the paper on the psi wheel: “All I’m succeeding to do is getting a headache.”
The thought that someone could be so smart upsets Carlson, who was known for being a bit uppity of superior in real life, and his death at 65 due to addiction to cigarettes and the fermented grape along with Rennie’s emphysema induced heart attack from cigarettes shows that genetics can help in terms of addictions killing you and your own weakness to become addicted… which is a part of the fun of the tontine as well as the point of the movie. Rennie and Carlson knew they’d go first in reality. The Clint Eastwood/Dirty Harry movie The Dead Pool (1988) has a black look at a similar movie-oriented death list.
The cast or committee all concentrate on the psi wheel, which could otherwise be a metaphor since putting pencil to paper and spinning it around to produce something of note beyond a simple thought – usually to make money. So, the irony of the executive committee is it’s a possible waste of time and money along with the impotent collection of high IQs getting fat and sitting uselessly together in one room except to possibly propose they build a giraffe… or in this case man’s plans to conquer outer space of all places! Another joke perhaps but the moon landing would happen in 1969.
“Oh, the dreams we had of knowing other worlds,” says Richard Carlson’s disillusioned doppelganger alien in It Came from Outer Space (1953) when they crash-landed on Earth.
As the cast of actors face something in the room called the Super Unknown or Superman or Superwoman, no-one will admit they are the smartest person in the room or that they prefer to be blissfully unaware of their ‘difference’ scares others like it was some form of deviant sexuality they won’t admit to as the psi wheel spins anonymously… Or as Maureen Arthur (1934-) as Miss Hedy LaRue, who thanks to Rudy Vallee (1901-86 cancer) running the World-Wide Wicket Company in How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying (1967), says after being scorned for nepotism: “It’s like I’ve got some very tropical disease or something!” I can relate to that.
As for the malignant telepathic force in The Power, and there is the possibility of an evil force which seems to drop in and give you a heart attack in the midnight hour or about 3am in the morning… The harder they come, the harder they fall otherwise! … It seems to be a possibility in suburbia and is it the Godless force of an evil Superman, “or Woman”, to quote Eric Idle’s Loretta from Monty Python’s Life of Brian (1979), who may use this power anytime and at their own will – to power? To paraphrase Nietzsche. This malignant lifeforce or power can bend others will towards self-destruction as well, and pervert their behaviour. Such is the strength of the will when used upon others in the psychic realm… and all that “mumbo jumbo” to quote a world leading scientist from The Invisible Boy (1957).
The miracle of the paper spinning in the committee room at all in The Power is a wonder to behold along with the amusement of waffling politicians and their inaction over greenhouse gas. That’s the horror of the amorphous Super unknown which can pick us off anytime, or “one by one” to quote a demon in The Evil Dead (1980) as if the whole world was having its bad teeth extracted… and The Power then progresses to kill the cast like the well-worn plot of Agatha Christie’s Ten Little Indians. I guess it’s an early serial killer horror movie.
“Now let’s talk about genes/jeans,” says the lovers Pleshette, and our hero of the piece who is played by George Hamilton (1939-), as they end talking about the possibilities of the Super unknown over cigarettes and drinks and we hear a zipper being released in the darkened room.
I am happy about the fact that I can share this movie while genetics and refraining from bad habits sees some of the actors in this movie still alive. This includes Hamilton, who would later appear in a dual role in Zorro, the Gay Blade (1981), as he performs breaststroke, sidestroke and backstroke in one scene while he cheats death, which hints at physical activity being a key to a long life for an actor. Also, there’s Jewish actor Nehemiah Persoff (1919-), who at the time or writing this article is over 100 years old. Persoff plays a professor who is eternally puffing a cigarette and as the movie unfolds, he passes away the victim of either his addictions or a malignant power. Persoff was, incidentally, in the similarly themed Psychic Killer (1975), which also starred another The Power cast member Aldo Ray (1926-91 throat cancer) whose fondness for the smokes and especially drink demonised him and saw him perish aged 64. Funnily enough there’s a scene with a packet of smokes and a flask of whiskey beside his bed… and a nude blonde in the bathroom!
The final major cast member who is still living at this point is Earl Holliman (1928-) who was the cook/kook in Forbidden Planet (1956) and that character with a low IQ had a fondness for liquor. Holliman is in his 90s and it just underlines Ten Little Indians/The Dead Pool style of how the cast and characters perish in the movie in terms of the true long-term effect of genetics and addiction. I guess it isn’t too many egg-heads who drink and smoke to excess and profess about Christianity lest they get ribbed. Actors too are also a club along with movie lovers – and smokers… you can’t get kicked out of that club or solo act. The joke again being that deep down we like to believe or be addicted to something…
What is a Zotz and the Isle of Mons got to do with The Power in PART TWO?