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Anchor Bay presents
Four Sided Triangle (1953)

"That girl, that silly, wonderful Lena—she doesn't know what she wants. I do. I know what I want. I want her."
- Bill Leggatt (Stephen Murray)

Review By: Dale Dobson   
Published: August 14, 2000

Stars: Barbara Payton, James Hayter, Stephen Murray, John Van Eyssen
Other Stars: Percy Marmont, Kynaston Reeves
Director: Terence Fisher

Manufacturer: Grace & Wild Interactive Development
MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (mature themes)
Run Time: 01h:21m:28s
Release Date: May 22, 2000
UPC: 013131107593
Genre: sci-fi

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
B+ A-AB C-

DVD Review

Four Sided Triangle is a science-fiction story concerning two scientists, Robin Grant (John Van Eyssen) and Bill Leggatt (Stephen Murray), who are hard at work on a "Reproducing" device capable of perfectly duplicating any physical object. When their childhood sweetheart Lena Maitland (Barbara Payton) comes back to town and joins the team, old rivalries resurface and are exacerbated when Robin and Lena announce their engagement shortly after the system's first successful demonstration. While the lovebirds honeymoon, Bill embarks on a series of experiments using live animals and resolves to create a duplicate Lena for himself, enlisting his friend (and the story's narrator) Dr. Harvey (James Hayter) to help. With Lena's consent, Bill creates "Helen," a perfect duplicate of Lena, with unexpected results.

This early Hammer effort bears many of the hallmarks of the classy British studio's later horror and sci-fi efforts—it features a fine cast of talented British actors, solid production design with detailed, functional-looking sets, and an admirable attempt to base its fantasy on hard science. The script is serious and literate, focusing more on the characters and their relationships than on the sci-fi gadgetry, and it manages to hint at a fairly adult subtext without being too explicit for the "A" rating granted its British theatrical release. Four Sided Triangle is really a love story despite its science-fiction trappings—its fantastic elements are used to explore down-to-earth issues of love, jealousy and wish fulfillment.

Terence Fisher directs with a restrained, confident hand, and the performances are quite good—James Hayter's distinguished presence as narrator and participant Dr. Harvey grounds the film, Barbara Payton is attractive but far from air-headed as Lena/Helen, and Stephen Murray as the troubled Bill Leggatt broods nicely, looking like a cross between Jonathan Pryce and Liam Neeson with another form of "reproduction" clearly on his mind. The only disappointing performance is that of John Van Eyssen as Robin Grant, whose cheerful, complacent air seems more appropriate to a drawing-room comedy than a Hammer film. Still, the movie holds up quite well almost fifty years on—while its core concept has been revisited by later "cloning" tales, it's still a valid exploration of the ethical dangers and human risks when science and emotion mix.

Rating for Style: B+
Rating for Substance: A-


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.37:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: Anchor Bay presents Four Sided Triangle in its original 1.37:1 aspect ratio, approximately full-frame as released in theatres circa 1953. The digital transfer of this black-and-white film is impeccable, with finely shaded grays and excellent detail. The transfer is so sharp that a slight softening surrounding the film's optical dissolves is quite noticeable—the current scene goes a bit soft, the dissolve occurs, and the new scene visibly "snaps" back to its normal quality afterwards. Anchor Bay and Hammer came up with a fine source print for this transfer, with just a few flecks and bits of graininess here and there, and this vintage film looks marvelous on DVD.

Image Transfer Grade: A


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access

Audio Transfer Review: Four Sided Triangle is presented with its original monophonic soundtrack, encoded as a Dolby Digital 2.0 track to play through the center speaker only. The soundtrack has not aged well—it has an old-fashioned, extremely clipped character with some unwanted low-frequency "echoes" while characters are talking. Malcolm Arnold's orchestral score fares better than the dialogue, though it sounds a bit strident and reedy on the high end, and there a few pops and crackles here and there. Anchor Bay's digital transfer is clean enough (some dead-air hiss seems to have been excised) but this is clearly a dated soundtrack.

Audio Transfer Grade: B


Disc Extras

Animated menu with music
Scene Access with 15 cues and remote access
Packaging: other
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extra Extras:
  1. World of Hammer episode: The Curse of Frankenstein
Extras Review: Anchor Bay provides Four Sided Triangle with 15 chapter stops and nicely animated menus, and a reproduction of a great poster from the film's theatrical release ("Unbelievable—Amazing—Gripping") is featured on the keepcase insert card. The only substantial supplement is yet another 24-minute episode of The World of Hammer, the 1990 "Best of British..." TV series narrated by Oliver Reed that seems to be a standard component of Anchor Bay's "Hammer Collection" releases. This episode is entitled The Curse of Frankenstein and features clips from several reanimation-themed Hammer productions, including The Curse of Frankenstein, The Evil of Frankenstein, Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell, Frankenstein Created Woman, Horror of Frankenstein, The Revenge of Frankenstein, and of course Four Sided Triangle. This episode isn't particularly enlightening, consisting solely of film clips with occasional voice-overs by Reed, and it gives away some of the best moments of the films involved. Definitely something to watch AFTER the main attraction.

Extras Grade: C-


Final Comments

Hammer's Four Sided Triangle is a fairly serious, adult science-fiction movie that meditates on the remarkable immunity of affairs of the heart to the methods of science. Anchor Bay's DVD presentation features a fine transfer—well worth a look.


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