An Oscar Wilde short story filmed for CBS-TV's CLIMAX! Series in the fifties
This is interesting, if rather mediocre. An expert at palmistry (expertly played by Peter Lorre) reads people's futures in their hands. His predictions come true. Is he a clever fake or does he have some occult knowledge? He foretells the future of a character played by Louis Hayward, an arch-sceptic with a troubled past, and this results in confrontations and violence. Ann Harding plays Hayward's elderly aunt, a performance pleasantly twinkling in imitation of Ethel Barrymore. She invites Lorre to move into her house, causing Hayward to become enraged and threatening towards Lorre. There are some twists in the story. The Chevrolet Corporation's ads for their 1956 range of cars (Chrysler, Plymouth, Buick, Desoto, and 'the exclusive Imperial' to use the constantly repeated slogan for that long-forgotten high end product) are as interesting and bizarre as the film itself, especially as they give the original sales pitch behind the notorious rear car 'fins' which became a national mania shortly thereafter, comparing them with jet planes and insisting that they embody 'power' and 'moving forward'. These ads are extremely interesting to any car designers or historians of advertising or of commercial design. As for the film, all those fifties people behaving in perfect fifties fashion, it is such a time capsule. Watching things like this helps one appreciate just how uniformly the entire population of America copied the mannered behaviours of the people they saw on TV and movie screens. 'Fifties homogenization' began on the screen and was too precious and artificial for words, helping to cause the backlash of sixties youth.
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