Producer Jack H. Harris and director Irvin S. Yeaworth will forever be remembered for their first film together, The Blob, starring Steve McQueen; they did some very worthwhile work after that, however, of which 4D Man is a prime example. It features one of the more novel plot lines of any 1950s science-fiction film -- what's more, it actually pulls off the screen illusion that it needs in order to make the movie work. Robert Lansing plays a research scientist who, through an accident, acquires the ability to pass his body through solid matter. The problem is that this drains his life energy, causing him to age rapidly, and he can only replenish himself by passing inside other people's bodies, killing them as he steals their life energy. Ultimately, he turns into a monster, killing at random. The special effects are well-handled, the script is nicely written, and the acting is well above average for the genre -- mostly because the cast was drawn from the ranks of experienced theatrical performers. The Blob used a similar approach and, indeed, used many of the same actors in supporting roles. 4D Man never made it to laserdisc, so the only basis for comparison comes from television presentations and a few theatrical showings in recent year. The Image Entertainment DVD stands head and shoulders above any prior home-viewing presentation of the movie, with amazingly rich, solid colors throughout and very sharp detail. Additionally, the makers have paid attention to the sound -- not just the dialogue (which is far superior in its realism, and better focused than most science-fiction scripts), but also Ralph Carmichael's jazzy score, which is something of a triumph itself -- Carmichael, a veteran arranger for figures such as Peggy Lee, outdid himself here in evoking the restlessness and turmoil of the characters and their interactions. There are no bonus features other than 18 fairly well-chosen chapters -- unfortunately, a few key scenes are missed in the markers, including the most disturbing one in the film, in which Robert Lansing's man-monster walks off with a young girl (played by a not-yet-famous Patty Duke). One also wishes that the notes were less steeped in miscellaneous trivia and had more information about the production, such as the fact that this script was originally intended for Steve McQueen, who had starred in The Blob (it is difficult to say whether McQueen would have been better suited to the part that Robert Lansing portrayed, or that of the younger brother, portrayed by James Congdon). The film starts up automatically, and the menu must be accessed manually.
Side #1 -- 0. Chapter Index 1. Main Title; Tony's Obsession [5:26] 2. Family Reunion [7:39] 3. A Day in the Park [5:11] 4. "When Are You Gonna Grow Up" [2:09] 5. The PressConference [1:46] 6. Wood and Steel [4:31] 7. Déjà Vu [2:40] 8. "Welcome Aboard" [3:18] 9. The Checkup [1:51] 10. Scott's Propsal [3:18] 11. Flesh and steel [10:56] 12. Imagine the Possibilities [2:18] 13. The Side Effect [8:27] 14. Carson's Demise [4:31] 15. Bedside manner [3:29] 16. Kiss of Death [4:35] 17. "NothingCan Stop Him" [5:13] 18. "I Can Go Through Anything" [7:31]