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The Man Who Could Work Miracles

(1936 b 82')

En: 6 Ed: 7

H. G. Wells wrote this story about a man given the power to perform any physical miracle but not psychological ones.

Gods in heaven discuss people and give power to one man at random - George Fotheringay (Roland Young). At a pub Fotheringay defines a miracle as something done contrary to nature by an act of will. He makes a lamp turn upside down. Alone he realizes he can order objects to move or appear or change. He goes to work at a clothing store and tells Maggie Hooper (Sophie Stewart), giving her violets and healing her arm. Fotheringay removes Effie's freckles. At dinner they discuss what Fotheringay should do. He cleans up the shop by magic. Fotheringay makes a rose tree attack a constable and is about to be arrested when he sends him to blazes and then San Francisco. Fotheringay meets Maggie at night and puts back the clocks. He tries to make her in love with him; but she says good-night.

His boss, Major Grisby (Edward Chapman), asks Fotheringay how he cleaned up the shop so fast and offers him 3,000 pounds a year for an exclusive deal. Reporters in San Francisco try to figure out how the constable got there. Grigsby wants a monopoly to make money; but Fotheringay creates money. The banker Bamfylde (Laurence Hanray) warns him. Fotheringay makes jewelry for Ada Price (Joan Gardner). Maggie sends Fotheringay to Mr. Maydig (Ernest Thesiger) for advice, who suggests they could eradicate disease and create prosperity. As a trial they change Col. Winstanley's whisky and his swords to farming tools. Police tell Winstanley (Ralph Richardson) about miracles and the missing constable. Winstanley's whiskey is water, and he tells the police to bring him Fotheringay, who explains it was Maydig's idea. Maydig and Fotheringay are planning peace and plenty, and Fotheringay restores Winstanley's collection. Fotheringay shows him Bombay, and Winstanley asks what people would do. Maydig said they could love each other and pursue art. Winstanley does not want change, but Fotheringay does. Grigsby says this will kill business, and Bamfylde says it will kill credit.

Fotheringay tells Maydig he can't get inside people to make them like art, and he wants Ada. Winstanley shoots at Fotheringay, who protects himself. Fotheringay says he will get what he wants. He makes Winstanley's home a palace with costumes and servants, and he makes Ada appear bejewelled and Maggie as a queen. Fotheringay calls forth the powerful and wise and tells them to run the world better, warning them to stop war. He says their power has come to him, and he demands a new world. He stops the earth rotating, causing destruction. Fotheringay restores all to the moment he was given the power. The gods debate whether humans will make it, and one says he will give them power gradually. In the pub Fotheringay can't make the lamp move, and he realizes he won't have the chance to make miracles.

This modern parable puts in perspective the petty drives and ambitions of humans, implying that we could end wars and have prosperity and justice if we acted intelligently.

Copyright © 2000 by Sanderson Beck

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