Spaceways (VHS) ~ Howard Duff (actor) Cover Art

Spaceways [VHS]

Howard Duff (actor), Eva Bartok (actor) and Terence Fisher (director)

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A strange mix of space-age rocketry and old-fashioned murder mystery, the 1953 Spaceways is notable as the first British science fiction film since the legendary Things to Come. Howard Duff stars as the strapping American physicist working on a top-secret British base; Eva Bartok is the European mathematician who pines for the married Duff. She gets to prove her love when he's accused of murdering his philandering wife and her lover, a fellow scientist, after they suddenly disappear from the high-security compound. Where did they go? A coldly logical detective (Alan Wheatley) suggests their bodies have been stuffed on an experimental satellite and shot into space, so Duff suits up for a space flight to prove his innocence. This early Hammer thriller is a cut-rate production with functional special effects and a talky, often ludicrous script. Duff is an amiable hunk who would look more at home on a football field than a laboratory and Bartok is all goo-goo eyes, but Wheatley is excellent as the cunning investigator driven by pure reason and deduction, a role Peter Cushing would make his specialty in the coming decade. It's pure B-movie hokum, but director Terence Fisher does it up in smart style, creating a thick atmosphere of tension on the tiny sets and keeping the story moving with interesting camera work. The Image DVD is beautifully mastered from a gorgeous, sharp print. --Sean Axmaker

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