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"Five" (1951), the First-Ever Post-Apocalyptic Film - Produced, Written, and Directed by Arch Oboler, Starring William Phipps, Susan Douglas Rubes, James Anderson, Charles Lampkin, and Earl Lee


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There are some movies that are so bad, they are good. "Five,  isn't one of them.  "Five" is simply bad. It is a low-budget film that looks like one. Writer, producer and director Arch Obolor used recent graduates from the University of Southern California film school as his crew, and it shows.

Oboler's own home, an unusual Frank Lloyd Wright design, is the setting for most of the film. This interesting house is the highlight of the movie, for me.

Five is the number of people remaining on earth following an atomic bomb disaster. It has been written that this film is the first to deal with a post-apocalyptic world, which makes watching it seem less like a complete waste of time.

There are huge holes in the implausible plot. The actors seem to have been given very little direction. There is one woman remaining at the end of the world, and four men. Two handsome guys fight for the hand of this mother-to-be, who is committed to learning if her husband survived. She has the personality of a rock, yet the men all want her. I suppose that is what happens when you are the last woman on earth.

The other characters are stereotypes. There is one funny scene--the only time "Five" crosses over into the so-bad-it-is-good category--where the evil Russian runs away, bumping into and nearly toppling a large, supposedly solid outdoor mailbox.

There is another scene, involving the mother and her child, that was almost good. But one scene a movie does not make. Unless you are interested in the evolution of post apocalyptic films, I would suggest skipping this one.

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On 12/13/2016 at 6:30 PM, DonRocks said:

Ihis movie was neither scary nor suspenseful. Unless you are a hardcore, and I mean hardcore, movie fan, your time is best spent as far away from this drivel as possible. There was almost nothing to like about this movie, and it was one of the worst films I've seen in a long time.

But not *the* worst: That honor goes to "Five" (but not by much).

To show how much William Castle evolved in ten years, and also to show how much of an influence "Psycho" had on the genre when it came out in 1960, William Castle was the Producer, believe it or not, of the 1968 classic, "Rosemary's Baby."

My above comment was about the 1958 film, "Macabre," which was one of the worst movies I've seen in a long time. But "Five" is worse still - it is, quite possibly, the single-worst film I've seen since I began this Film Forum several years ago.

The movie is a vanity project by someone with lots of money, and no talent whatsoever. Its *only* virtue - and I mean, it's *only* virtue - is as a historical film, in that it was the very first post-Apocalypse movie ever made, and I do mean ever. That alone is worth something, I suppose - but only for truly die-hard science-fiction buffs.

Everything about this film was so bad that it *wasn't* laughable - it was worse than laughable. The acting was on a high-school-play level, and the plot had more holes in it than Mighty Mouse's Swiss Cheese Factory during a mole infestation. How these five people, from remote corners of the world, became the last five people in existence, perchance conglomerating in one, remote location (with one man washing ashore from *China* after walking all the way across Russia to get there) is beyond comprehension. 

The only reason you should watch this - assuming you don't have a particular interest in post-apocalyptic film - is to see just how bad a movie can be. I'm not kidding when I say that "Plan 9 from Outer Space" is better than this - I swear it is: "Plan 9 from Outer Space" is indescribably bad, but it's so bad that it's good, and it *is* funny; this movie isn't funny at all because it takes itself so damned seriously.

I wanted to watch this film because of Charles Lampkin - I'm developing an interest in people of color who have serious roles in films pre-1967, and I was hoping this might be worth seeing because of Lampkin; it isn't. He was about the biggest strength the film had, but he wasn't nearly enough to pull it from the depths of Hell.

I will be balanced, and include a review that is much less critical than these two. I think the person couldn't be any more wrong, but nevertheless, it is a valid third opinion:

Aug 23, 2010 - "A Film Rumination: Five, Arch Oboler (1951)" by Joachim Boaz on sciencefictionruminations.wordpress.com

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