Thread Of Life (1960)

Rating: **
Review Date: 7/12/15
Director: Owen Crump
Cast: Dr. Frank Baxter

This is the blandest and most sparsely produced entry in the Bell Labs Science Series that I've seen. It deals with genetics and the recently discovered Watson and Crick double helix model of DNA. While the material is fascinating, the presentation is exceedingly dry. The stage consists of a main screen for viewing experiments and stock footage, and a series of smaller television monitors where a group of people ask Dr. Frank Baxter questions about heredity. There is no sense of whimsy or humor at all, and Robert McKimson's animation is purely statistical. There's one unintentional laugh due to the age of the film, when Dr. Baxter talks about mutations and says "nature pulls a boner." It's a dense, but highly informative film that tackles a complex and difficult subject. The Q&A nature of the presentation attempts to keep the audience actively engaged, but isn't entirely successful. Some of Dr. Baxter's dialog is awkward when interacting with these characters, especially when dealing with women.