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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
The Man Who Could Cheat Death is directed by Terence Fisher and adapted to screenplay by Jimmy Sangster from the Barré Lyndon play The Man in Half Moon Street. It stars Anton Diffring, Hazel Court, Christopher Lee, Arnold Marlé, Francis de Wolff and Delphi Lawrence. Out of Hammer Film Productions, music is by Richard Rodney Bennett and Technicolor photography by Jack Asher.

Paris 1890 and sculptor Georges Bonnet (Diffring) has perfected a way to halt the aging process. Trouble is that it involves murdering young women so as to extract their parathyroid gland to formulate his eternal life elixir.

Disappointingly weak Hammer Horror that would be near unwatchable were it not for the efforts of Asher, Fisher and Bernard Robinson (production design). The source story is made to measure for Hammer, where berserker science mixes with Gothic murder tones, all the ingredients are there for a lively fusion of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde with The Picture of Dorian Gray. But the film is more concerned with much talking and posturing, thinking that sci-fi babble and moral quandaries are going to keep things interesting. We of course want some meat and reasoning for main characters to impact on the plotting, but using up an hour for it, in a film that only runs an hour and twenty minutes, leaves very little room for thrills and drama. It also demands that the finale be explosive, a whirlwind of horror revelations and biting comeuppance, sadly the ending we get is rather a damp squib.

Things aren't helped by the casting of Diffring, who overacts far to often, or that Lee is underwritten and firmly disinterested in making the thin characterisation work. Court looks ravishing and gives the film its best performance, but she is also hindered by a bare bones script from the usually excellent Sangster. The story just plods to its inevitable conclusion, the screenplay never daring to veer away from the safe formula road. While much of the detective work from de Wolff's Inspector LeGris leaves a great deal to be desired. On the plus side it looks real nice, a triumph over low budget restrictions, the minimal sets dressed in period splendour, the colour sizzling and Fisher uses wide shots to make certain scenes that are played out on tiny sets actually look expansive.

Devoid of up-tempo terror and finishing on a whimper, this is very much average Hammer and not easily recommended to the horror faithful. 5/10
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 21 November 2012
This is a great old Hammer Horror film. However, it is not shown off at its best on this "Legend Films" USA Region 1 DVD. I thought that "Snap," "Popple" and "Crack" related to my breakfast cereal! This must be some new form of "Silicon Valley" digital transfer technology! The "alleged" digital transfer is so poor that it makes no difference to either the picture or sound quality. Pretty rubbish really! The DVDs currently being digitally re-mastered in the USA seem to be getting worse, not better. I remember a time, not that long ago, when imported USA Region 1 DVDs were far superior to UK or German Region DVDs. Those days have long gone. You now have to exercise great care when you buy a USA Region 1 DVD. The trouble with us "fussy","discerning" Europeans is that we expect the highest quality digital transfer techniques to be employed on both the original picture and soundtrack of every film that we are expected to view in our "quality" time. This costs a lot of money. We don't care! We demand the highest Region 2 quality even from a £2.99 DVD. And, 9 times out of ten, we get it! Contrast this with the USA. For a start, most of them can't read, write or add up properly! They think that Alaska is next to Australia! The rot set in in 1776! They seem to think that all you need to do is do the talk but not the walk! Jog on buddy! I believe that there is a "Legend Films" Blu-ray version of this film available to buy from Amazon.co.uk (imported from the USA). If you have a multi-region Blu-ray player or a computer drive that can play Blu-ray discs then this might be an option for you. However, I do not know about the quality of the digital transfer on the Blu-ray disc. I suggest that you carefully read the Amazon reviews before you buy.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
The Man Who Could Cheat Death is a minor Hammer film from 1959 that offers a rare lead role for Anton Diffring and an even rarer opportunity not to play a Nazi - instead he gets to play a mad scientist who has managed to find the secret of eternal youth, just as long as every ten years he has an operation that requires a gland from an unwilling donor. A remake of The Man in Half Moon Street, it's professionally made with decent enough production values even if it rarely ventures outside the house but, despite a good supporting cast including Hazel Court, Christopher Lee (playing the hero this time) and Francis Dewolff, Terence Fisher's direction is more solid than inspired, leaving it with the feeling of a decent supporting feature rather than the main attraction.

Although unrestored and with a bit of dirt on the soundtrack in one sequence, Legend's extras-free US NTSC transfer is more than decent, though it is missing the topless shots of Hazel Court included in some export prints. Blu-ray owners might want to track down Legend's region-free Blur-ray double bill of this and The Skull (Man Who Could Cheat Death / The Skull [Blu-ray] [US Import]).
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 8 July 2011
Not one of Hammer's most popular films - but for fans, a MUST !! Starring Anton Diffring, I can't understand why Hammer did not use him more - see him also in that classic, CIRCUS OF HORRORS.
This film also stars that horror queen, Hazel Court. It is on record that Hammer paid her extra to do a scene topless in this film, for the far east version.
Sadly this is not it !
The film has that opulent look of sets by Bernard Robinson - whilst still at Bray Studios.
Definitely one for the Hammer collector !!
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
This 1959 Hammer movie, set in Paris in 1890 and directed by Terence Fisher, is a remake of the 1945 film "The Man In Half Moon Street" and also shares some similarities with Oscar Wilde's "The Picture Of Dorian Gray".

Everyone's favourite movie Nazi, Anton Diffring, stars as Dr. Georges Bonnet, who likes to do a bit of sculpting in his spare time as well as other more sinister things. The doctor looks much younger than his age because he just happens to have discovered, with the help of his friend and colleague Professor Ludwig Weiss, the secret of immortality. In order to stay young(ish) Dr. Bonnet must have a certain gland replaced every ten years. If this is not done in time he will suddenly grow old and die. In the past this operation has always been performed by Professor Weiss but now his right hand is virtually useless as the result of a stroke so they must find someone else to perform the necessary surgery.

The prime candidate is Dr. Pierre Gerard (Christopher Lee) but he refuses to do this at first but then Dr. Bonnet kidnaps one of his former models, Janine Dubois (Hazel Court), a woman that both doctors are in love with, and forces Dr. Gerard to operate.

Like most of the Hammer Horrors of this period, "TMWCCD" looks stunning and is well-acted by a superb cast. It's a shame though that the story is not all that interesting and doesn't really grab you or leave a lasting impression. This film came out after a host of great Hammer movies such as "The Curse Of Frankenstein", "Dracula", "The Hound Of The Baskervilles" and "The Mummy" which were tough acts to follow and, unfortunately, "TMWCCD" is not as good as these other films.

This DVD version from Legend Films presents the film in its correct ratio of 1.66:1. I have heard that certain prints of this film contain some topless nudity in the scene where Janine Dubois poses for Dr. Bonnet but such content is missing from this particular version and you only see her head and shoulders in the frontal shots. This DVD is still worth having in your collection though if you are a fan of Hammer films.
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on 15 September 2011
This is a lesser known film from the Hammer stable starring Anton Diffring, a talented actor more used to supporting roles as a Nazi or other, similarly despicable character. Diffring is a scientist who has discovered a way to remain youthful and healthy despite being of great age, but must undergo periodic surgery using tissue from unwilling donors to maintain his immortality. The script is a little pedestrian and the shock moments fewer than in most Hammer films of the period, but it is still a film worthy of greater recognition and an essential part of any serious Hammer collection.

The DVD is a Region 1 release with no extras other than scene selection. It is presented in a 1.66 widescreen transfer which, apart from a rather dark opening credits sequence, is of pretty good quality. You will need a multi-region dvd player to enjoy this film of course, until someone decides that we in the UK (the home of Hammer) are deserving of a Region 2 release.
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15 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on 31 January 2009
I'd never seen this Hammer film before, and I've seen them all, or most of them anyway. After the first viewing I thought it was a good little chiller. But after the second viewing I thought it was up there with classics like Dracula, Scream Of Fear & The Devil Rides Out. The film has a Jack the Ripper vibe to it and can be very spooky at times...If you like Hammer films give this one a try.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Speaking as a huge fan of all things Hammer, I find myself disheartened to have to berate this film, but feel it had to be done given all the undue praise. This is Terence Fisher's worst film for Hammer. It is incredibly boring, with an awful pace and perplexing lack of style. Hazel Court is always good value, as is Anton Diffring as the lead, however they can't save this one. There is a lack of momentum throughout and the whole film is terribly uninspired and lazily written. The climax briefly sparks the film to life, but it is too little, too late. It's a shame the lovely Hazel's infamous censored nude scene wasn't reinstated in the film too; this might have redeemed the film somewhat. The picture quality is mediocre at best on this dvd; perhaps a better transfer might have increased enjoyment of this misbegotten outing but I'm inclined to think not. I advise all to seek out the myriad of excellent Hammer films available rather than waste time on this outing. With the underrated likes of Straight on Till Morning, Curse of the Werewolf, Cash on Demand, Plague of the Zombies, She, Frankenstein Created Woman, The Snorkel, Demons of the Mind, The Mummy's Shroud and The Nanny available, there's little point in sullying one's view of Hammer by watching this. Hammer completists only need apply; but I'd recommend making this a low priority.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 10 April 2013
The Man Who Could Cheat Death was certaintly a welcome surprise given some of the indifferent reviews here and on IMDB.

It's obviously been made on a shoe string budget with only one or two sets, and a handful of actors. However that doesn't come into the equation- as main stars Anton Diffring and Christopher Lee keep the film churning along nicely.

Diffring plays a man who has found a way to stay alive forever and keep his young age- the only catch is that he must kill in order to acheive this. He also must have a gland operation from the victim be performed on him every 10 years. This time he needs Lee's help (Lee plays a doctor).

Alas Lee plays a rare good guy role, and naturally does not want to get involved in such a project.

The film is loaded with some great lines, and has long drawn out scenes, but filled glouriously by some good dialogue. And it's always nice to see Lee acting from an old classic Hammer horror.

The film may not be perfect- (the make up on Diffring at times looks terrible), but it's an entertaining ride, and a movie that should be much better known. All round a very good effort.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 1 December 2009
one of the great hammer films directed by terrance fisher who brought out the best in his actors and is allway good to watch good story and good all round film entertainment very good
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