The Man Who Was Never Born
(One Of The Ten Best!)
Martin Landau, Shirley Knight, John Considine, Karl Held, Maxine Stuart.
A mutant from the far future travels back in time in order to prevent a plague which wrecked the world.
This episode is a must see for Martin Landau (Mission: Impossible) fans. His impassioned style of delivery is perfect for a character trying desperately to prevent a future global disaster. Note Director of Photography Conrad Hall’s beautiful photography, particularly of co-star, Shirley Knight. The ending packs a whallop!
An astronaut time warps two hundred years into the future. He lands on Earth, meets a mutant (Landau), and finds out most of the Earth’s population has been destroyed by a man-made plague, developed by Bertram Cabot Jr.
Landau travels back in time to kill Bertram, before he develops his deadly microbe. Arriving on Earth, in the past, Landau, (who has the hypnotic power to look “normal”), is bummed… he’s too early: Bertram Cabot Jr. has not been born yet.
Landau and Cabot’s mother-to-be fall in love and go up into space together. Landau disappears, and the woman is trapped in space alone forever.
Director Leonard Horn’s THE MAN WHO WAS NEVER BORN, is a gripping, involving time travel fable.
The episode has some fun, Sci-Fi dialogue, courtesy of writer, Anthony Lawrence. When an astronaut lands on a desolate looking planet, he asks ugly, mutant Landau, “Where am I? What planet is this?” Landau replies, “It is called Earth.”
Martin Landau (“Tucker”), only several years before rocketing to fame as master of disguise, Rollin Hand, on television’s “Mission: Impossible,” is convincing as a man from the far future, trying desperately to prevent a future calamity. Director Horn is reasonably successful in reigning in Landau’s sometimes tendency to over emote.
Shirley Knight (“Endless Love”), is luminous as a young girl just entering womanhood. Director of Photography, Conrad Hall, bathes Knight in light, like an angel, which is ironic, since her future son will grow up to unleash a plague that will destroy most of mankind.
Lawrence’s Teleplay is sad and bittersweet. Landau and Knight play the ultimate doomed couple.
My favorite scene takes place fairly early in the episode. As Landau follows the landlady up the stairs, we see him in his true mutant form, because she’s not looking at him. It’s a nice odd moment, like a scene in a fairy tale.
The FX in this episode are quite uneven. Early shots of the astronaut’s spaceship show us a standard, 1950’s style ship, with a pointy front and big fins at back. But the landing scene, a short time later, is quite good, with the ship, landing gear extended, resembling a streamlined version of NASA’s Lunar Excursion Module. The Special Effects are credited to Si Simonson.
Landau’s makeup, when we see him in his true mutant form, looks pretty silly. Makeup Supervisor, Fred B. Phillips, appears to have been having a low biorhythm day.
The music, by Dominic Frontiere, is dramatic and full of foreboding. It gets a bit mushy, however, during brief romantic scenes between Landau and Knight.
THE MAN WHO WAS NEVER BORN should be highly watchable for most Sci-Fi viewers. Landau/”Mission Impossible” fans may go into orbit. THE MAN WHO WAS NEVER BORN is a timeless time travel tale!