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As the Earth Turns

USA 1938/2019
produced by
Ed Hartman, Richard Lyford (1938), Kim Lyford Bishop (executive) for 8th Sense Productions
directed by Richard Lyford
starring Barbara Berger, Alan Hoelting, Edwin C. Frost, Richard Lyford, Roger Bassett, Patricia Cowan, Leslie Houde, David Taylor, Charles Hoffman, Alfred Clake, Burton Dinius, Robert Dishman, Vinton Birch, Bruce Mattson, James Leipper, Brooks Stevens, Charles Albert Lyford jr, Richard Moseley
screenplay by Richard Lyford, based on The Man Who Rocked the Earth by Arthur Train, Robert Williams Wood, music by Ed Hartman

silent, featurette

review by
Mike Haberfelner

It's war in Europe, but Julie Weston (Barbara Berger) is a lowly secretary at a New York newspaper with dreams of one day becoming a first class journalist. But when he begs her boss to assign her a story, he pretty much sends her off to a radio operator, just to get rid of her. But she's there when the operator receives a message from someone calling himself PAX (Richard Lyford), claiming to be the dictator of the world and demanding world peace. Of course nobody takes him seriously, nobody but Julie, who's laughed off though by her boss when she suggests to print the PAX story. However, PAX soon proves to everyone how powerful he is, by things like halting the earth's rotation by five minutes, by causing tidal waves and flooding the Sahara. The world leaders begin to take him seriously now, but still cannot come to a peace agreement even in the eye of destruction.

Rather by accident, Julie and her boyfriend/colleague Arthur (Alan Helting) stumble upon Pax's airplane making an emergency landing, and when Julie proves to be too nosy, PAX takes her captive and abducts her to his secret headquarters. However, she manages to drop the location of these headquarters to Arthur, who with befriended scientist professor Banks (Edwin C. Frost) hijacks a plane in order to free Julie. At PAX's headquarters, Arthur and the professor run into PAX, who turns out to be a bona fide pacifist and brilliant scientist - who has been so taken in by his own powers and possibilities though that his self destruction seems to be only a matter of time ...

 

Now above synopsis might suggest a big Hollywood production as this is a story that demands elaborate special effects and high production value - but as it is, this is a strict indie production directed by a young (no more than 20 years of age) filmmaker completely outside of the Hollywood system ... but not so that you know it, as the effects and miniature work is of high standard, and while not all holds up from today's point of view, it manages to put many "professional" effects spectacles from its day to shame. On top of that, As the Earth Turns is rather beautifully filmed, with the director showing a genuine eye for framing and decent camerawork, while no corners seem to be cut to bring the story to life on a budget. And couple all of that with the film's very mature pacifist message while the world was actually on the brink of war, and you got yourself a pretty remarkable movie ...

 

... which remained forgotten for almost 80 years (and was probably not even publicly shown back when), and if it wasn't for professional filmscore composer Ed Hartman, who just stumbled upon footage from the film in the late 2010s and made it his mission to restore the film to its former glory and finally give it distribution (quite besides providing it with a suitably dramatic score), we might have even now fallen short of what under other circumstances could have been a science fiction masterpiece of its day.

 

As for director Richard Lyford himself, he didn't survive to see the rediscovery of his movie as he died in 1985, but he did carve a bit of a name for himself in the film business, first at Disney and later as a documentary filmmaker, directing among others the Oscar winning feature documentary The Titan: Story of Michelangelo (1950).

 

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review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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Robots and rats,
demons and potholes,
cuddly toys and
shopping mall Santas,
love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.

 

Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
-
a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
to the weirdly romantic,
tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
the twisted mind of
screenwriter and film reviewer
Michael Haberfelner.

 

Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner

 

Out now from
Amazon!!!

 

 

 

On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide
WHICH IS WORSE!!!

 

A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
starring
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD