The Man Who Could Work Miracles (1936)

Unrated   |    |  Comedy, Fantasy

The Man Who Could Work Miracles (1936) Poster

An ordinary man suddenly finds that anything he says comes true. Or at least, almost anything.


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15 June 2015 | utgard14
| "As I want it, so it will be!"
An unassuming Englishman named Fotheringay (Roland Young) is given miraculous powers by celestial beings (perhaps gods, the film never says). He doesn't know where he got the powers from or why and, at first, he doesn't use them for anything more than simple tricks. Gradually he starts to realize the gift he's been given and decides to use his power for the greater good. But he isn't sure how to do this so he consults several respected men in the community and gets wildly different suggestions.

A delightful fantasy comedy with a script co-written by H.G. Wells, adapted from one of his short stories. It's leisurely-paced and well-directed. Amazing special effects for the time, particularly when you consider this wasn't a Hollywood production. Roland Young (wearing a toupee) is perfectly cast. I can't imagine another actor from this time playing this part so well. The rest of the cast is terrific with a few recognizable faces in the mix, including Ernest Thesiger and, in a small role, George Zucco. Ralph Richardson steals the show as a blowhard colonel quite put out by Fotheringay's miracles. A shirtless George Sanders plays one of the 'gods.' One of my favorite scenes is when Fotheringay tells a policeman to "go to blazes" and winds up sending the man to Hell! The policeman's reaction while there and Fotheringay's subsequent attempt to fix the situation are hilarious.

Reportedly Wells intended the film to be more preachy, like his script for Things to Come the year before. But thankfully director Lothar Mendes and co-screenwriter Lajos Biró chose to focus more on the comedy and getting the points across that way. The result is a funny movie but with some big ideas that gives you a lot to think about.

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