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The Man Who Could Work Miracles

Man Who Could Work Miracles title card

Year - 1936
Studio - London Film Production, Ltd.
Stars - Roland Young, Ralph Richardson, Ernest Thesiger, Edward Chapman, Joan Gardner, Sophie Stewart
Director - Lothar Mendes, Alexander Korda (uncredited)
Writing Credits - H.G. Wells (short story, scenario, dialogue), Lajos Biró (screenplay)
Music - Mischa Spoliansky


The gods in the heavens are contemplating the universe, and focus on the small planet Earth. They speak mockingly of the pathetic, powerless human beings there, but the god Indifference (George Sanders) proposes an experiment, to endow one random Earthling with unlimited powers, to see what he does with it. That power is transmitted to a mild-mannered drapery salesman in London, George McWhirter Fotheringay (Roland Young). He wanders into a tavern where the conversation, coincidentally, is about the possibility of miracles. George, in attempting to demonstrate the impossibility of such things, actually causes a lamp to rotate and continue burning, at his command. Soon, he realizes that he can cause things to appear, to change, and to vanish, at first using subjects like kittens, rabbits, flowers, etc. On a whim, he sends a curious policeman to the middle of busy traffic in San Francisco.

Man Who Could Work Miracles poster

George learns that the power doesn't include influencing the feelings of others when he is unable to cause an attractive woman to fall in love with him. He consults with his clergyman, Maydig, on how to use his new power. Maydig (Ernest Thesiger) advises that he work for the betterment of mankind through peace and love, and suggests that he turn the weapons collection of the neighboring Colonel Winstanley (Ralph Richardson) into plowshares and farm implements. Colonel Winstanley is not amused by this, and complains to other business and military leaders that George is a dangerous threat to the status quo of civilization.

Winstanley attempts to shoot George, but misses, and George pronounces himself invulnerable. He creates an instant palace and fills it with all the world's leaders - businessmen, military and clergy - and demands that they immediately come up with a solution to improve the welfare of everyone on Earth, not just themselves. They balk at his demand and, to show them that his powers are absolute, he causes the planet to stop its rotation. Unfortunately, the inertia causes everyone and everything to spin violently off into space. George is able to make a command that the time returns to the moment before he entered the tavern. Before he goes in, he makes a final command, that he no longer have the power of miracles.

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The Man Who Could Work Miracles was suggested for this site by Karine Philippot.