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The Man Who Could Work Miracles (1936)

Unrated | | Comedy, Fantasy | 19 February 1937 (USA)
An ordinary man suddenly finds that anything he says comes true. Or at least, almost anything.

Directors:

Lothar Mendes, Alexander Korda (uncredited)

Writers:

H.G. Wells (scenario), H.G. Wells (dialogue)
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1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Roland Young ... George McWhirter Fotheringay
Ralph Richardson ... Colonel Winstanley
Edward Chapman ... Major Grigsby
Ernest Thesiger ... Maydig
Joan Gardner ... Ada Price
Sophie Stewart Sophie Stewart ... Maggie Hooper
Robert Cochran Robert Cochran ... Bill Stoker
Lady Tree ... Grigsby's Housekeeper
Lawrence Hanray Lawrence Hanray ... Mr. Bamfylde
George Zucco ... The Colonel's Butler
Wallace Lupino Wallace Lupino ... Constable Winch (as Wally Lupino)
Joan Hickson ... Effie
Wally Patch Wally Patch ... Supt. Smithells
Mark Daly Mark Daly ... Toddy Beamish
George Sanders ... Indifference
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Storyline

George McWhirter Fotheringay, while vigorously asserting the impossibility of miracles, suddenly discovers that he can perform them. After being thrown out of a bar for what is thought to be a trick, he tests his powers and eventually sends a policeman to Hades by accident. Worried, he sends the police officer to San Francisco, and seeks advice from the local clergyman, Mr Maydig. Maydig, after having Fotheringay's powers demonstrated to him, quickly planning for reform of the world by means of miracle, but eventually Fotheringay orders a miracle which, due to clumsy wording, backfires. He relinquishes his power and returns to the time before he had it. Written by Anthony Pereyra <hypersonic91@yahoo.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

A Modern Aladdin Who Could make Women Do Things! See more »

Genres:

Comedy | Fantasy

Certificate:

Unrated | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

UK

Language:

English

Release Date:

19 February 1937 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

H.G. Wells' The Man Who Could Work Miracles See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Noiseless Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

This movie was included in the first syndicated television presentation of a package of major studio feature films on U.S. television; it premiered in Boston Sunday, July 4, 1948 on WBZ (Channel 4), followed by Chicago Monday, July 12, 1948 on WGN (Channel 9), by Cleveland Sunday, August 1, 1948 on WEWS (Channel 5), by New York City Sunday, August 15, 1948 on WPIX (Channel 11), by Baltimore Friday, December 10, 1948 on WMAR (Channel 2), by Atlanta Wednesday, February 16, 1949 on WSB (Channel 8), and by Cincinnati Monday, August 1, 1949 on WKRC (Channel 11). The package consisted of twenty-four Alexander Korda productions originally released theatrically between 1933 and 1942. See more »

Goofs

In the final scene in the pub, Fotheringay is shown with his hands on the bar as another patron addresses him, but in the next immediate shot, his right hand is up to his cheek. See more »

Quotes

George McWhirter Fotheringay: You just stand there looking lovely, until I notice you!
See more »

Crazy Credits

Opening credits are shown over a background of outer space. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Boxcar Bertha (1972) See more »

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User Reviews

 
H.G.Wells's Opinion Of The Human Condition
13 March 2009 | by bkoganbingSee all my reviews

The Man Who Could Work Miracles has its start in the heavens where some Greek God like creatures are roaming among the stars, one of them played by an as yet unknown George Sanders. Apparently H.G. Wells's idea of a Deity was closer to the Greeks and Romans than Christianity. In any event these three creatures discuss the happenings on planet earth where a group of puny creatures dominate, but who might start getting into their realm in the heavens in a few generations.

Let's see what they can do if one of them is granted our powers, creation with a mere thought. And with a random selection of a celestial finger it lands on meek little Roland Young as he's entering his local pub.

It takes time for Young to grasp the significance of his gift and this is Wells's most telling comment on the film, the sheer pettiness of the average man. From parlor tricks to trying to improve his love life, Young just can't seem to get it into his head what he can do.

Of course they're others who do think about these things more deeply than young. But I believe what H.G. Wells was trying to say is that even those who see a bigger picture than Young and attempt to use him only see it from a narrow perspective. The former colonel Ralph Richardson thinks of conquest, Edward Chapman thinks in terms of business and commerce, Ernest Thesiger is a dreamy Utopian with a theological background. Even Young sees the flaws in each of their versions of Utopia.

H.G. Wells in his other film that came out around the same time provided the answer by his lights. It was the scientists who should establish the benevolent despotism of the age, they alone have the wisdom to rule all of us. Wells said as much in Things To Come, though I never saw any evidence in the film and in real life that scientists are any better qualified than anyone else. Still that was his view.

The subject of humans being given the Godlike power of creation has been done many times. In a more serious version it was the subject of a classic Star Trek episode with Gary Lockwood being given just that power and in a half hour Twilight Zone episode, a hapless Burgess Meredith was a subject of a similar experiment. Meredith made Young's character look hip and appealing.

Though some might argue that Cosmo Topper was his career screen role, I would hold out that Everyman George William Fotheringay, selected by the Gods to be The Man Who Could Work Miracles is Roland Young's best part. He's such a hapless slob that each and every one of us can identify with. You might think you would know what to do given his power, but when you examine yourself a bit further......................


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