One of the most successful directors of the 1960s, when he became an efficient maker of epic-length pictures, Robert Wise is one of Hollywood’s few popularly recognized filmmakers. He joined RKO in the 1930s as a cutter and eventually became one of the studio’s top editors, working in this capacity on classics such as The Devil and Daniel Webster (1941), Citizen Kane (1941), and The Magnificent Ambersons (1942). He became a director with help from producer Val Lewton, who assigned Wise to finish Curse of the Cat People (1944), a B-movie that had fallen behind schedule, and the resulting picture proved extremely haunting and enduring. Wise later directed The Body Snatcher (1945) for Lewton, but after the producer left RKO, he found himself locked into B-movies. His 1948 psychological Western Blood on The Moon, starring Robert Mitchum, and the acclaimed boxing drama The Set-Up (1949) were the only two important pictures that Wise got to do during his last four years at the studio. Wise… read more
It's an engaging SF medical thriller leveraging Crichton's background as an MD although grade school notions about systems engineering make parts of this silly. The animal experimentation scenes involved the real use of carbon dioxide asphyxiation to simulate death. Maybe that was ok by ASPCA standards in 1971 but that kind of suffocation is known to be terribly painful; doing it for entertainment is reprehensible.
Technically proficient, slow-burn science fiction. Plenty of production value and neat-o visuals. Its pace perhaps ends up being a little *too* slow, its exposition a little too clunky, its overall effect a little too bloodless. (Though the "red light" scenes with the epileptic doctor were pretty memorable, as were the computer animations of the strain itself.)
Wise and Gidding (director and screenwriter) succesfully repeat the formula applied when adapting the psychological horror classic "The Haunting". A concise emphasis in human drama and scientific verosimilitud over a seemingly far-fetched subject. Tense and paranoid atmosphere that grows in its final stages, despite the overload of dialogue. An adrenaline-pounding thriller.