Four Sided Triangle

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Four Sided Triangle
Directed by Terence Fisher
Produced by Michael Carreras
Alexander Paal
Written by Paul Tabori
William F. Temple (novel)
Starring Stephen Murray
Barbara Payton
James Hayter
John Van Eyssen
Music by Malcolm Arnold
Cinematography Reg Wyer
Edited by Maurice Rootes
Release dates
25 May 1953
Running time
81 minutes
Country UK
Language English
Budget £25,000[1]

Four Sided Triangle is a 1953 British science-fiction film directed by Terence Fisher and starring Stephen Murray, Barbara Payton and James Hayter. It was made by Hammer Film Productions at Bray Studios.

The film dealt with the moral and scientific themes (not to mention "mad lab" scenes) that were soon to put Hammer Films on the map with the same director's The Curse of Frankenstein. Four Sided Triangle has most in common with Fisher's Frankenstein Created Woman (1967).


The film opens with Dr. Harvey (or "Doc" as he is known to the locals) relating to the audience an odd tale that took place in his peaceful village.

Bill and Robin are boyhood friends who compete for the affections of Lena, a beautiful girl about their own age. In adulthood, the two men collaborate on the invention of the Reproducer, a machine that can exactly duplicate physical objects.

Lena comes back into the picture, reviving the childhood feelings in the two men. In time, they abandon their work on the Reproducer, Robin going away to learn his family's business. Bill is disappointed to discover that Lena loves Robin and intends to marry him.

Seeing the hopelessness of winning Lena for himself, Bill convinces the young woman to allow him to use the Reproducer to create a duplicate of her. The experiment succeeds, and Bill names the woman he has created "Helen."

Unfortunately, the experiment has worked too well, and when Helen is introduced to Robin, she falls hopelessly in love with him too. Bill decides his last chance is to use electro-shock to erase Helen's memory.

Helen agrees to give it a try, and Bill convinces Lena to help him with the procedure, manipulating some of the electronic equipment. The process seems to work, but the apparatus overheats and explodes, causing a terrific fire.

Robin arrives with Dr. Harvey, who has explained the situation to him, and manages to rescue a woman from the fire. Bill and the other woman perish in the flames.

There is some tension around the idea of which woman Robin has saved, Lena or Helen, especially when Dr. Harvey discovers that the woman has no memory. However, Dr. Harvey recalls that Bill had had to start Helen's heart with a device that he attached to the back of her neck, leaving two scars. Robin is relieved to find that there are no marks on the neck of the woman he has rescued: It is Lena.

Production details[edit]

Four-Sided Triangle was an early effort by Hammer Studios. The laboratory set is very impressive; it contains a mix of realistic gadgetry – an oscilloscope, functioning gauges, etc. – with the transparent domes, flashing lights, and electrical paraphernalia that are so dear to movie studio art directors. The picture relies on a minimum of trick photography. There is one brief and poignant shot of Helen (the duplicate woman) wistfully peering through a window at Lena (her template) who is looking at Robin. This camera set-up (a double exposure) is the only moment in the entire film when Lena and Helen are both shown onscreen at the same time.

Differences from the novel[edit]

Four-Sided Triangle features some differences from the original novel by William F. Temple. In the novel, the duplicate (named Dorothy and nicknamed Dot) falls into depression for being married with Bill while she's in love with Robin. She has a breakdown and has to go on vacation with Bill to recover. When they return, Bill starts working on a power generator which explodes, killing him. Lena tries to convince Robin to accept both her and Dot, but he refuses. A couple weeks later, Lena and Dot have an accident while diving on a river. One of them dies and the other is seriously injured. Dr. Harvey and Robin are startled when they discover that the surviving woman can't recall anything after the duplication, and suppose she's repressing all the painful memories, so she must be Dolly. Dr. Harvey finds in Bill's notes about the marks on Dot's neck and tells Robin, convincing him that the survivor is Lena.

In an epilogue, he reveals that he also discovered a note in which Bill recalls that, during vacation, Dot had undergone plastic surgery to erase the marks, but destroyed it so Robin and Dot can be happy.



Hearne, Marcus & Jonathan Rigby. Four Sided Triangle: Viewing Notes (accompanying R2 DVD release)


  1. ^ John O'Dowd, Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye: The Barbara Payton Story 2007, p 222

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