Sunday, August 19, 2012


PHENOMENALITY: *marvelous*
FRYEAN MYTHOS: *adventure*
CAMPBELLIAN FUNCTION: *sociological, psychological*

The date on this telemovie seems to be highly variable: one account says that it was filmed under this title in 1977 but didn't make it to television screens until 1982, when it may have been given the revised title "Computercide."

Though FINAL EYE is bankrupt in the arena of the science-fiction "thought-experiment," it does accidentally replicate the essence of Alfred Bester's THE DEMOLISHED MAN, in that the story concerns an attempt to commit a crime in a highly evolved future when crime seems impossible.  That's where the resemblance ends, unfortunately.

The title refers to hero Michael Stringer (Joe Cortese), who appears to be the world's "final private eye" in the ultra-evolved world of 1995.  People drive electric cars (one looks like Darth Vader's helmet) and computers have made the bad old days of crime investigation unnecessary. But to Stringer's surprise, a client named Lisa Korter (Susan George) seeks him out.  The daughter of a wealthy philanthropist, she suspects that her father has met with foul play.  Mr. Korter had invested in an utopian retreat named "Eden Island," where only persons of great talent could enter. Korter suffers a vague accident at the retreat, but when he's seen in public, he suddenly seems to be a much younger man. It's not clear why this peculiarity doesn't impress anyone else-- it will later turn out that Korter is dead and that a clone, one not yet accelerated to the proper age, has taken his place-- but Lisa is the only one who objects.

Stringer, rather like the 1960s teleseries-hero Mannix, is an "oldstyle" P.I.-hero who doesn't like all the fancy technology-- even though he's only in his late twenties and therefore would have grown up with all the technological advances.  It's a little like expecting the audience to buy that a modern kid grew up hating the Internet.  There's a strange psychological quirk here, as if the writers themselves had some animus toward scientific advancement-- or thought that the general audience did-- and so decided to incarnate that animus in a young man, in effect putting the sentiments of a sixty-something old grouch in the mouth of a twenty-something young guy.

Anyway, Stringer manages to find his way onto the island-- he runs such a cheapjack operation that he has to induce his client to accompany him on the investigation-- and uncovers a clonemaking operation run by  Donald Pleasance.

Though there's potential for some excitement in this derivative storyline, the script is listless and the hero shows no superior combative ability, which is why I've labeled this a "subcombative adventure."  The budget may have curtailed what director Robert Michael Lewis could do, for unlike the writers (who don't have any outstanding credits on imdb), Lewis executed did some fairly entertaining telefilms in his day, including 1974's PRAY FOR THE WILDCATS, 1980's S*H*E*, and 1988's LADYKILLERS.

 The only entertainment here is seeing how poorly the scripters imagined a future-world-- my favorite being a "computer-library" that scans video-recordings but which one has to search through like a microfiche machine.  In fact, the prop used may have *been* a converted microfiche reader.


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