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Douglas Fairbanks Jr.,
Disjointed, full of missed opportunities but not without interest
'The Oracle' is a frustrating film as the potential for a charming fantasy/comedy is there, but because of some odd narrative choices the film never really delivers.
The first half of the film is centred on a struggling newspaperman (Michael Medwin), whom on an holiday in a remote Irish town discovers it contains an oracle located down a well that is used by locals to solve everyday problems. Inevitably he begins using it to develop his own career.
Then, the second half of the film is largely based around the newspaper and its brash editor (Robert Beatty) dealing with the moral implications of providing information to the general public, especially when it comes to the question of whether another world war will result.
Both halves have some value. The first half has some charm with likable characters and picturesque Irish seaside setting. The second half deals with the moral and social implications of knowing the future in a relatively intelligent and serious manner.
But the two halves don't really mesh - the first half is focused on Medwin's character yet he's largely an afterthought in the second half. The film's genial, light-hearted atmosphere in the Irish segment awkwardly contrasts with the increasingly dour segment in the English newspaper office where the topic of the future of humanity even comes up.
As well, the film probably lacks the panache to be a really successful light comedy. For example, the film has the original idea of the voice of the Oracle complains about the opening and ending credits but it isn't as funny as it should be.
Still, it's not a bad film and worth seeking out for seeing the likes of Medwin and Virginia McKenna at the start of their careers.
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