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DEAN JAGGER AND WILLIAM LUCAS IN HAMMER'S 'X THE UNKNOWN'

X THE UNKNOWN Year: 1957 Rates: ****

Hammer's science-fiction/horror hybrid X THE UNKNOWN came out the same year as QUATERMASS 2, sequel to THE QUATERMASS XPERIMENT where Brian Donlevy played the inevitable creature-seeking Dr. Quatermass in both...

And this production was supposed to be yet another of that franchise, which makes sense since Dean Jagger plays central investigative scientist Dr. Adam Royston with more genuinely cerebral concentration and would have made a far superior, more effective title character... but being a standalone makes X a solidly entertaining thriller about a mysterious atomic substance that first kills a soldier (Kenneth Cope) and then a child in a rural wide-open field...

William Lucas in X THE UNKNOWN

Then transcending inside a hospital to a womanizing doctor (and his screaming nurse), making for what could otherwise be a serial-killer body-count crime flick where Jagger... alongside young William Lucas as his boss's adventurous, risk-taking son (two suspenseful near-death sequences involve only his character) and Leo McKern as a detective... remains one step behind the deaths while progressively figuring out the origin and vulnerability...

Keeping in equal step with neatly-paced direction for what's extremely dangerous and, like the Quatermass double-feature, inevitably monstrous while never taking from the human characters that, in these kind of vehicles, have to be as intriguing as whatever enigmatic force they're after... for the ongoing exercise and eventual outcome to even matter.

William Lucas and Dean Jagger in SHAKEDOWN
William Lucas in X THE UNKNOWN
William Lucas and Dean Jagger in X THE UNKNOWN
William Lucas and Dean Jagger in X THE UNKNOWN
Marianne Brauns in X THE UNKNOWN
Neil Hallett in X THE UNKNOWN
Marianne Brauns in X THE UNKNOWN
Leo McKern and Dean Jagger in X THE UNKNOWN
Edward Chapman, William Lucas and Dean Jagger in X THE UNKNOWN
William Lucas in X THE UNKNOWN
William Lucas and Dean Jagger in X THE UNKNOWN
Edward Chapman, William Lucas, Dean Jagger and John Harvey in X THE UNKNOWN
Hammer regular Michael Ripper in X THE UNKNOWN
William Lucas and Dean Jagger in X THE UNKNOWN
William Lucas and Leo McKern in X THE UNKNOWN
Dean Jagger and Edward Chapman in X THE UNKNOWN
Leo McKern, William Lucas, Dean Jagger and Edward Chapman in X THE UNKNOWN
William Lucas in X THE UNKNOWN
William Lucas in X THE UNKNOWN
William Lucas in X THE UNKNOWN
William Lucas in X THE UNKNOWN
Kenneth Cope in X THE UNKNOWN
Kenneth Cope, John Harvey and Michael Ripper in X THE UNKNOWN

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