Strange Case Of The Cosmic Rays (1957)

Rating: **
Review Date: 3/17/07
Director: Frank Capra
Cast: Richard Carlson, Dr. Frank Baxter

Another film in Frank Capra's Bell Science series, but I never saw this one as a child. In this tale, our friends "the fiction writer" (Richard Carlson) and "Dr. Research" (Dr. Frank Baxter) explore the phenomenon of cosmic rays by submitting their tale to a detective story contest being judged by Edgar Allen Poe, Charles Dickens, and Fyodor Dostoevsky (all represented by intricate marionettes). This film is not nearly as entertaining as the others in the series, and the information that is presented is pretty dry and heavy. Capra tries to lighten the load by making literary references and referring to cosmic rays as the Fagin of Dickens lore, using henchmen (elemental particles) to rob electroscopes of electrical charges. The information into the discovery of cosmic rays comes fast and furious, and the attitudes towards nuclear power are chilling in this day and age. Still, it's a fascinating subject that until now I knew absolutely nothing about, so in that regard the film is a success. The puppetry used in the film is astounding, and the caricatures of the literary icons are quite amusing. However, I miss the colorful charts and animations of the other films, and I found the physical models and gadgets in this entry not very interesting.