The Medusa Touch (1978)

Rating: C+

Dir: Jack Gold
Star: Richard Burton, Lino Ventura, Lee Remick, Michael Byrne

In an era when everything else seems to be out on DVD, this has yet to appear in America. This is probably because one of the catastrophes Morlar (Burton) believes he has caused involves a Jumbo Jet flying into a skyscraper, something the movie shows with disturbing glee. Post 9/11 resonance aside, it’s a solidly-acted piece of work, with my main criticism that the audience is always well ahead of the story. The “is he mad or can he really do these things?” issue is resolved, as far as we’re concerned, long before the French policeman (Ventura) investigating a near-murderous assault on Morlar, finds the truth. Morlar’s shrink (Remick) is equally unwilling to believe – frankly, can’t blame her. Fortunately, Burton is easily capable of the necessary menace, even when comatose in a hospital bed, entirely wrapped in bandages.

The supporting cast is right up there with Harry Potter as far as Great British Characters Actors go: Michael Hordern, Derek Jacobi and Jeremy Brett, to name but three, all get five minutes or less on screen. While a bit of a distraction, they give the story much-needed weight, though any French detective such as Ventura’s (a result of the trans-Channel production deal, I suspect) will inevitably remind me of Inspector Clouseau. Made in 1978, this has dated, but not as badly as some others, and combined with the decent performances, there’s still enough creep factor left.