The Man Who Could Work Miracles

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The Man Who Could Work Miracles
The Man Who Could Work Miracles film poster.jpg
Directed by Lothar Mendes
Produced by Alexander Korda
Written by H. G. Wells
Lajos Bíró
Starring Roland Young
Joan Gardner
Ralph Richardson
Music by Mischa Spoliansky
Cinematography Harold Rosson
Edited by Philip Charlot
William W. Hornbeck
Distributed by United Artists
Release dates
8 February 1937 (UK)
19 February 1937 (US)
Running time
82 minutes
Country United Kingdom
Language English

The Man Who Could Work Miracles is a 1936 British fantasy-comedy film. It is a greatly expanded version of H. G. Wells’s story of the same name.

Plot outline[edit]

In The Man Who Could Work Miracles, three angels decide to experiment. They give a haberdasher's assistant, George Fotheringay (Roland Young), almost unlimited powers. He enters the Long Dragon Pub and begins arguing with his friends about miracles and the impossibility of them. During this argument he inadvertently causes a miracle: he causes an oil lamp to turn upside down, without anyone touching it and with the flame burning steadily downwards rather than righting itself. He soon runs out of his miracle-sustaining willpower and is thrown out of the pub for spilling oil on the floor and causing a commotion.

When he arrives home, he performs the same trick with a small candle and finds that it works. He is so overjoyed that he spends the better part of the night working miracles such as lifting his table, lifting his bed, enlarging a candle-extinguisher to a brightly painted cone, making a kitten appear under it, and turning his bed into a cornucopia of fruits and fluffy bunnies.

The next day, he makes his miracles known to the public. A policeman discovers his powers; when he begins to annoy Fotheringay, Fotheringay curses, telling him to "Go to blazes [hell]!" – where the poor bobby then finds himself surrounded by flames, swirling smoke, sulphur, and the howls of condemned adulterers and liars. Fotheringay is shocked, and has the cop relocated to San Francisco where he finds himself in the midst of capitalists, automobiles, and Spearmint gum.

Nobody agrees on how he should use his powers, so he contacts Mr. Maydig, the local vicar. The vicar thinks up a plan to bring about a Golden Age and have Fotheringay abolish famine, plague, and war. They celebrate this by playing a miraculous trick on a local war profiteer and having his whisky, beer, and cocktails turn to mineral water, and his swords and weapons turn to books and agricultural tools. When the war profiteer hears about this, he decides to kill Fotheringay but the assassination plot fails, as Fotheringay had made himself invulnerable.

Fotheringay decides not to trigger a Golden Age, but to do what he wants, believing that everyone else only wants to use him. In a fit of reckless pompousness, Fotheringay changes the Colonel's house into a spectacular palace of real gold and marble. He then summons up all the pretty girls of Essex, after which he summons the butlers in Essex, the leaders of the world, the teachers, musicians, priests, etc. He dresses up like a king and appoints the girl he loves as empress. He then commands the leaders of the world to create a utopia, free of greed, war, plague, famine, jealousy, and toil. Maydig begs Fotheringay to wait until the following day, so Fotheringay buys some time by making the Earth stop rotating. Of course, everything on Earth has adapted to the rotation of the Earth and so, like a car coming to a sudden halt after travelling at 130 MPH, the world falls to pieces as people fly through the ice-cold air and buildings crumble.

In the end, Fotheringay, who has survived, uses his powers to put things back as they were before, willing away the power to work miracles and erasing all memory of the events. Fotheringay appears again in the pub, tries the trick with the lamp, but fails.


External links[edit]

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