Year: 1974

Production: Hemisphere / Maclean & Co.

Director: Jack Gold

Starring: Elliott Gould, Trevor Howard, Joseph Bova

Screenwriter: Jack Gold

Based on Who? (1958) by Algis Budrys

91 minutes; Color

Released long after being made, and publicized not at all, this taut, efficient little metaphysical thriller, hinging on questions of what constitutes identity, deserved rather better. A key US scientist (Bova) is terribly injured on the East German border and later returned, fixed up by the Russians, in cyborg form with a metal face and hand. Or is he a planted double agent? Gould plays the US security man who sees to it that the cyborg is constantly watched. With a series of Cold-War riffs, a rather good subtext is set up about the human-seeming machine of the state apparatus (on both sides) verses the machine-seeming human (with more human feeling than he putatively had before, as shown in a touching scene with the ex-wife). The prosthetic "monster" finally rejects secret scientific work; instead he retires, quite alone, to a farm. The mask is never removed, not even metaphysically, and the mystery is only solved (for alert viewers) through ironic indirection. Gold is known mainly as one of UK's better tv-drama directors.

The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction

Back to the List