Monday, 1 October 2018


An imaginative low budget sci-fi film that strives to break the mould

Directed by Irvin S. Yeaworth, Jr.
Produced by Jack H. Harris and Irvin S. Yeaworth, Jr.
Written by Theodore Simonson and Cy Chermak
Cinematographer: Theodore J. Pahle
Art Direction: William Jersey
Makeup Dean Newman
Special Effects: Bart Sloane
Music: Ralph Carmichael


Robert Lansing as Dr. Scott Nelson
Lee Meriwether as Linda Davis
James Congdon as Dr. Tony Nelson
Robert Strauss as Roy Parker
Edgar Stehli as Dr. Theodore W. Carson
Patty Duke as Marjorie Sutherland
Guy Raymond as Fred
Chic James as B-girl
Elbert Smith as Capt. Rogers
George Karas as Sgt. Todaman
Jasper Deeter as Dr. Welles
Dean Newman as Dr. Brian Schwartz
John Benson as reporter

"A man, an idea, the equipment and a place to work in secret!"
A man possessed with the ability to walk through solid matter!
A man motivated by greed and jealousy!
A man using his powers for his own personal gain!

Ah, but at what cost to himself and to others?

Sneak peak

Read on for more……

Spoilers follow below…..

“A man, an idea, the equipment and a place to work in secret. All the ingredients are here. He attacks the job of trying to pass a wooden dowel through a steel block with the confidence of a man who knows it can be done. Maybe it will work tonight. This failed many times before but driven by an obsession that it can be done, he is unconcerned with failures of the past or dangers of the future. His only interest is to prove this theory…..but he doesn’t know that his obsession will transform a man into a monster: a man whose life will be changed as he crosses the threshold into the – fourth dimension!”

The brilliant scientist, Dr. Tony Nelson, has developed an electronic amplifier that has been designed to allow any object to achieve a 4th dimensional state in which it can pass freely through any other object.

Heedless of any consequences to himself or to others, the reckless and irresponsible Tony fails to notice an electrical overload, which results in a fire that burns down his university lab. As a result, the university terminates his contract and Tony now finds himself virtually unemployable by irresponsibly breaking the university’s rules in his single-minded attempt at breaking the established rules of orthodox science!

What choice does the now unemployed Tony have but to seek out his underpaid and unappreciated brother, Scott to help him with his experiment?
One couldn’t find two people, despite being brothers and fellow scientists, who are more polar opposites of each other.

First, we have Scott, the underpaid, unrecognised and unacknowledged researcher at Carson Laboratories. He is a rather dour workaholic whose achievements are largely appropriated by his boss, Dr. Theodore Carson. Scott's latest achievement is “Cargonite,” a metal with an extremely dense atomic structure that is potentially totally impregnable. It is named after Carson, who is of course taking much of the credit for Scott's work. For Scott, “there’s more important things in life.” 

It is as if Scott’s invention stands as a symbol reflecting his own impervious personality and character. As Tony later says to him, “You think this cargonite is the ultimate defense…bomb proof, heat proof, bullet proof – absolutely impenetrable.”

Then there is younger brother, Tony who is brilliant but irresponsible. Tony theorizes that an electrical field could be established that would allow solid objects to pass through one another. Much like galaxies passing through one another without stars colliding, Tony believes that since matter is made of minuscule particles existing and moving in mostly empty space, one object could also penetrate another without ever touching. 

Tony’s theory is as in his brother’s case, a reflection of his own personality and character but one displaying an emotional and dynamic crash through or crash style. For instance, during a dinner get together with Scott and Linda, Tony draws a picture of a pencil embedded in a block of metal. When questioned about it by Linda, he replies, “Well, if you must know it’s a self-portrait.”

The consequences of Tony’s approach to life are symbolized by his later falling down the stairs when he rushes to retrieve the block of steel with the embedded pencil to show Scott and Linda. As Shakespeare’s Friar Lawrence from Romeo and Juliet might have pointed out to him, “Wisely and slow, they stumble that run fast.”

Fairview Research Centre

Fresh from the conflagration he caused at the university lab, Tony turns up at the Fairview Research Centre where his brother is conducting his experiments with cargonite. Somewhat ironically, Tony is confronted by a wire mesh barrier fence replete with signs proclaiming, “Badges must be worn in plain sight.” This is the first layer of his brother’s world which consists of impervious barriers and is governed by strict rules and regulations. Not the kind of world a reckless young scientist might feel comfortable inhabiting without disturbing the established order of things.

It is also a dangerous world that fosters predatory behaviour as typified by the centre’s head, Carson as well as by the likes of Roy Parker with his “caveman” approach and obvious designs on Scott’s position of team leader and his girlfriend, Linda Davis.

Tony is soon set up in a lab of his own, but as his enthusiasm increases, Scott becomes more bitter and withdrawn. The situation is exacerbated as Linda is all too obviously attracted to Tony who she soon falls for. To make matters worse, Tony has had a track record when it comes to moving in on his brother’s relationships with other women. As he informs Linda at one point, “I’ve taken a girl from him before.” 

Scott’s rigid emotional barrier, however, wont allow him to display the kind of emotional communication Linda needs. At a later stage Linda tells Scott, “What you feel for me isn’t love. It’s a habit. Working together, spending so much time together. You depend on me so much.” 

Even with the bond between his brother and Linda increasing right in front of his nose, he does not respond as any other man would. The resulting gulf is filled by Tony and Linda’s developing relationship thereby causing an accepted and unspoken relationship rule to be broken with consequences sure to follow.

Scott has also been suffering from migraines and his EEG readings are right off the scale which seem to suggest that his exposure to radiation may be adversely affecting him. Scott’s doctor informs him, “Your impulses were so strong, well…I’ve never seen anything like it.” He suggests that it may be related to Scott’s work or that it is a result of ”an effect of radiation we don’t know anything about.” The doctor goes on to add somewhat aptly, “There are some things more important to you than your work.”

We eventually see Scott lingering outside the facility’s fence which suggests to us that Scott is undergoing a profound inner change that will take him beyond the constricting self-imposed barrier he has surrounded himself with. At this point in time his headaches worsen. 

When he re-enters the facility, Scott discovers brother’s requisitioned items in locker. Yet another rule or procedure flouted by his irresponsible sibling. 

At about the same time, assistant lab scientist, Roy has stolen Tony's notes and is trying to pass off Tony’s idea as being his own to the facility's director, Carson, so he can become a chief scientist himself. 

An enraged and jealous Scott proceeds to steal his brother's invention. While tinkering with it, he eventually transforms himself into a 4D state. As he demonstrates this process to Tony, Scott leaves the amplifier power turned off, yet somehow manages to successfully pass his hand through a block of steel. Scott has demonstrated the ability to enter a 4D state using his own will. Ironically, it is Tony who cautions Scott not to reveal this ability until he can further test for potential side effects.

The feared side-effects soon become apparent as Scott has now become a broken man with a broken personality who has begun to spin out of control!

A mere mortal now has a god-like power to penetrate anything at will. Initially he tests out his new abilities by shoplifting a piece of fruit through a grocery store's window. He then notices a diamond necklace on display in a nearby jewellery store window but decides against stealing it. His tentative experimenting with his powers also serves as a test of his moral constraints. These constraints are about to be broken as we see Scott’s face break out into a meaningful grin when he spots a bank.


Scott is beginning to relish the fact that he now has “the power of being able to do something no one else can do.” 

While in the 4D state, Scott can pass through any solid object, however he ages at a greatly accelerated rate. In order to negate this effect, Scott soon learns that simply by touching others, he can rejuvenate himself by draining their life-force. As was discussed and pointed out to Scott by Linda and Tony, “You’ve compressed the energy of years into a moment……That’s like the fourth dimension.”

Later on, the police investigate a strange crime in which more than $50,000 was stolen from the bank with no obvious sign of forced entry, or other evidence of the crime having been committed. Even more puzzling is that a $1000 bill was found protruding from a solid piece of tempered steel.

It has become obvious to Tony that Scott has been abusing his power and he tries to convince the police to stop him.

Scott eventually confronts Carson, who he sees as being responsible for having his life drained from him all these years by denying him his due recognition for the discoveries he’s made. Scott reveals the 4D experiment to Carson and tells him, “From now on I do the taking.” Scott then exacts his revenge by draining Carson's life force.

Scott Nelson's megalomaniacal desires for recognition, women, riches and power have been released but he now finds himself trapped in a cycle of addiction in which he must kill repeatedly in order to replenish his lost life-force. He can only do that by repeatedly entering the 4D state which in turn depletes more of his life-force. He is no longer in control of anything least of all himself as his emotions cause him to enter the 4D state involuntarily.

Tony informs the police about what has been happening, but they are unable to stop Scott as he shifts through walls, touches and kills policemen, and is able to allow bullets to pass through him. While standing over dead body of the prematurely aged cop, Tony declares that, “Nothing can stop him. You can’t imprison him with men, guns and tanks. No wall thick enough, gun strong enough. A man in the fourth dimension is indestructible.”

Scott eventually finds out that Tony is attempting to construct another amplifier, so he returns to the lab. We see Scott reaching into the nuclear reactor with arms outstretched within a blinding blast of fissionable material. Tony, Linda and the police try to stop Scott by turning on the reactor where Scott hid the amplifier while he's inside it. While in a shifted state, Scott cannot be stopped. 

Linda lingers awhile in the reactor control room when the others flee and she is able to catch Scott while he is in solid form as they embrace. At that moment, Linda shoots him with the gun the detective left behind.

Mortally wounded, bleeding and obviously felling betrayed, Scott defiantly proclaims his invincibility and phase-shifts his body through the cargonite reactor wall. "The End" appears on screen, followed a somewhat cliched question mark leaving open the question as to whether Scott died or survived.

Full Movie

Points of Interest


The idea for 4D Man originated from a scientific pamphlet about the molecular structure of matter which producer Jack H. Harris was looking at. It stated that if it could be worked out how to arrest the molecular structure of two foreign pieces of matter, then these molecules could be allowed to intertwine. Apparently, the pamphlet gave Harris the idea that the 4D state would cause the Scott character to die very quickly from premature old age. 

4D Man, aka The Evil Force (UK) and Master of Terror (US reissue), was produced by Jack H. Harris, who’s promotional campaign for the film involved an offer of $1 million reward to anyone who could walk through a wall or perform any of the “4D” feats that were depicted in the film.


Director Irvin S. Yeaworth only directed six feature films between 1956 and 1967 but did also direct more than four hundred short films containing Christian and social messages.

Yeaworth had previously partnered with 4D Man producer, Jack H. Harris, and screenwriter Theodore Simonson on The Blob, (1958) starring Steve McQueen in his big-screen debut. That film is featured in this blog as well.


This was Lee Meriwether’s first appearance (as Linda Davis) in a movie. She had been 1955 Miss America and played Catwoman, in the 1966 Batman movie.

A thirteen year old Patty Duke played “Marjorie.” We know Patty Duke from her Academy Award-winning role as a young Helen Keller in The Miracle Worker, and as a teenager in the 1963-1966 TV series, The Patty Duke Show.

Robert Lansing’s role as Dr. Scott Nelson was his first starring role in a movie after having previously been a Broadway stage actor. He would continue to appear in movies and had regular roles in network TV series.

James Congdon who played Dr. Tony Nelson had appeared in When Worlds Collide (1951) which is featured in this blog.

Special Effects

The special effects featuring Lansing passing through walls and people are quite effective, if you are prepared to ignore the visible matte lines. We can appreciate them all the more considering the film’s obvious lack of budget and the fact that the movie was filmed in colour at a time when most sci-fi B-movies were filmed in black & white.


The background music to 4D Man is odd. The decision to use beatnik style bongo drumming within a jazz music score would’ve suited a more gritty crime thriller or film noir movie instead of a science fiction film. Perhaps it was hoped it would give the film a certain suspenseful edginess to it. It certain places it did achieve that!


The central sci-fi element of the film was certainly a departure from the well-trodden paths that science fiction films had taken by the end of the 1950s. Here we have a talented but irresponsible scientist, Tony Nelson who has managed to develop an electronic amplifier that he hopes will allow any object to achieve a 4th dimensional state thereby causing it to pass freely through any other object.

It certainly must have been a novel and almost unimaginable idea to audiences at the time. In fact, when I first saw this film as a small boy in short pants I couldn’t get the terrifying idea out of my mind of having my hand or any part of me trapped within a solid object!

Fast forward 60 years and we have research being conducted albeit at the atomic scale examining how electrons travel through energy barriers instead of over them.

This tunnelling behaviour can be likened to a person having the ability to walk through a mountain rather than over it. In this kind of a world, quantum mechanics rules while the familiar rules of physics break down.

Hamlet’s words, “There are more things in heaven and earth…than are dreamt of in your philosophy” ring so true in a sub-atomic world in which particles could exist in two places at the same time or where two particles separated by distance can behave in exactly the same way as if there were some kind of communication happening between them.

We only get to experience and perceive a surprisingly small slice of “reality” via our limited senses. Most of what we can’t account for or perceive directly with our senses in the wider universe we can only label as being “dark matter” and ‘’dark energy.”

Faced with the sheer weirdness of the universe, being able to pass through solid objects might not sound so silly after all!

Then there are mental games we can all play to get our heads around the idea of the possibility of being able to pass through an object such as a wall. What if there was a two-dimensional creature who exists in his flat two-dimensional world. We can picture him as part of a drawing on a piece of paper or on the side of a house or barn. In his flat two-dimensional world, the poor little fellow has his path blocked by a two-dimensional wall. So, he thinks to himself, “Confound it! I can’t just walk through that wall. HHmmm! What if I had access to another dimension – a third dimension!”

If he had such access to a third dimension he could simply step off the side of the house or barn, walk to the other side and step back on, avoiding the two-dimensional wall altogether!

Similarly, if we had access to a fourth spatial dimension, we would be able to circumvent obstacles that do not extend into that fourth dimension.

Ouch, my head hurts!


You may have noticed a preponderance of the colour blue throughout the film – on walls, clothing, lighting and elsewhere. The question is, why? Honestly, I have no idea! Could it be an attempt to achieve a noir-style effect using colour?

The colour blue is generally accepted as having a calming effect on people. It is also associated with the following qualities or aspects of life: faith, spirituality, contentment, loyalty, fulfillment, peace, tranquility, calm, stability, harmony, unity, trust, truth, confidence, conservatism, security, cleanliness, order, sky, water, cold, technology, depression.

Words in italics could very well apply to the film in terms of the kinds of emotions that might be evoked.

What do you think?

Power Corrupts

In 4D Man we are presented with the age-old but still very relevant theme of the corrupting influence of power whereby an individual acquires so much power but is unable to handle it and winds up abusing it. The descent into tyranny is often the result whereby the powerful individual feels immune to the constraints of justice or legal checks and balances and believes he OR she can act with impunity. Even in the 21st Century we still have powerful elites who are prepared to exercise power devoid of any sense of morality and who are instead motivated by self-obsession, selfishness, a sense of entitlement, self-delusion, the taking of petty revenge on imagined enemies and a misguided believe in the power and force of their own will.

Such dangerous “4D men” turn out to be just weak and pathetic one-dimensional beings who must be made to understand, and fear punishment should they feel tempted to exercise power unjustly and arbitrarily.

©Chris Christopoulos 2018

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