The Power (1968 film)

The Power is a 1968 American science fiction thriller film from MGM,[1] produced by George Pal, directed by Byron Haskin (his final film), that stars George Hamilton and Suzanne Pleshette. It is based on the science fiction novel The Power by Frank M. Robinson.

The Power
Directed byByron Haskin
Produced byGeorge Pal
Written byJohn Gay
Based onThe Power
by Frank M. Robinson
StarringGeorge Hamilton
Suzanne Pleshette
Music byMiklós Rózsa
CinematographyEllsworth Fredericks
Edited byThomas J. McCarthy
Distributed byMetro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Release date
  • 1968 (1968)
Running time
108 minutes

The storyline concerns two men who have the ability to control or slay others with their minds.[2]


Professor Henry Hallson, an anthropologist, discovers evidence of a person with psychic abilities among his co-workers in a research laboratory. His colleagues include biologist Dr. Jim Tanner, geneticist Dr. Margery Lansing, physicist Dr. Carl Melkinen, biologist Dr. Talbot Scott and chairman Norman Van Zandt, all working for government liaison Arthur Nordlund.

After a warning from Hallson that one of them possesses a super-intellect beyond human measurement, and capable of controlling other human minds, the assembled co-workers conduct a telekinesis test using a simple psi wheel, which spins once all of them concentrate on it together. Later that night, Hallson is found murdered in the laboratory's human centrifuge, with the name "Adam Hart" scrawled on a piece of paper in his office. Hallson's widow Sally Hallson tells Tanner that "Adam Hart" was the name of her husband's childhood friend.

The police make routine checks of the backgrounds of the members of the committee of which Hallson was a member, and Tanner immediately becomes the prime suspect in his murder when it is found that he has apparently lied about his distinguished academic credentials. In fact, all records documenting his past have been erased by some inexplicable method. Tanner visits Hallson's hometown and learns that Adam Hart is a superhuman, with different people providing different descriptions of his appearance, and others still obeying commands that Hart gave them years earlier.

As Tanner tries to uncover the superhuman, his associates are methodically murdered. Talbot Scott, panicked by what is happening, is eventually shot in a confrontation with the police. In a final showdown, Tanner confronts the apparently undefeatable Adam Hart, who is revealed to be Arthur Nordlund. Hart's psychic assault awakens Tanner's own latent psychic powers, and Tanner kills Hart instead. Tanner realizes that he was the superhuman uncovered by Hallson's tests, and that Hart was trying to eliminate any competition from others like himself.



The source novel's plot was substantially changed in John Gay's screenplay, moving the location to San Marino, California, changing most of the characters' names (although retaining the surnames of Tanner, Nordlund, and department head Professor Van Zandt), and eliminating several subplots and characters, presumably to fit the film's 108-minute run time.

Hamilton starred as Professor Jim Tanner, with Pleshette as his teammate and romantic interest Margery Lansing (Marge Hanson in the novel), and Michael Rennie (famous among science fiction film fans as Klaatu in The Day the Earth Stood Still) as new government liaison Mr. Nordlund. Otherwise, the story unfolds in a fashion similar to the novel, except for a somewhat different twist to the conclusion. In the film Tanner defeats Hart but retains his humanity; in the novel, Tanner sheds his humanity after killing Hart, and looks forward to "playing God" with normal humans, just as Hart did.

This film is memorable for a number of intriguing scenes, including murder by centrifuge, a seemingly possessed "Walk/Don't Walk" pedestrian sign, toy soldiers firing with real gunpowder, and "winking out" inanimate objects (the last two also in the novel). The soundtrack also memorably features a beating heart to signal the mind-control attempts and eerie music from a cymbalum (a hammered dulcimer-like instrument) accompanying the film's more suspenseful moments.

The music, written by Oscar-winning composer Miklós Rózsa, contributes an amusing fourth wall-breaking moment when Tanner, hearing the haunting tune, seems to expect a new disaster, only to be visibly relieved when he finds a cymbalum-violin duet being performed in the hotel lobby. This was Rózsa's final score for a film produced by MGM, for which he had scored numerous films throughout his career.


There is a scene of what may be the first appearance and operation by telekinesis of a psi wheel in a film.[3]

See also


  1. Meehan, Paul (2008). Tech-noir: the fusion of science fiction and film noir. McFarland. p. 130. ISBN 0-7864-3325-6.
  2. Kael, Pauline (1991), 5001 nights at the movies, Macmillan, p. 593, ISBN 0-8050-1367-9
  3. "Hollywood Telekinesis and Psychokinesis Movie List". Retrieved September 28, 2012. Also, the psi wheel scene can be seen in the film's trailer on YouTube.
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