“The Magnetic Monster” (1953)
The Magnetic Monster (1953), produced by nature and science lover Ivan Tors; directed by early TV veteran Herbert L. Strock and Curt Siodmak, who majored in mathematics in Germany before WWII.
It’s a wonderful piece of Fifties technical science fiction, told with a voiceover in the serious tones of a police documentary. A hardware store in the city (un-named, but Los Angeles) is experiencing a case of freakishly excessive magnetism. The specialists from OSI (Office of Scientific Investigation; note the similarity to OSS, the CIA precursor). They discover evidence of a radioactive core that had been taken to the store’s upstairs offices. But now it’s gone. OSI launches a search for this core, trying to trace it down, and stop it before it grows and increases its magnetic power.
It’s refreshing – the “monster” is completely inanimate. It’s the result of a scientific experiment gone wrong.
I really like the combination of Dragnet narrative voiceover with the cautionary post-war message about science getting out of hand. The science writing is credibly charming. (paraphrasing…)
The magnetism is unipolar.
The vacillation phases come every eleven hours.
Gentlemen, we are witnessing creation itself.
There are stills and sequences of some of the computers of the early 50’s, including UCLA’s “M.A.N.I.A.C.” There are even stylistic touches reminiscent of German Expressionism and Bride of Frankenstein.
I loved it! There are two more entries in the OSI series. Can’t wait to see them too!