Four Sided Triangle

"An empty mind ... and a new beginning": Barbara Payton in Four Sided Triangle (dir. Terence Fisher, 1953).

Along with Stolen Face, this early Hammer film is one of Fisher's signs of predisposition toward the Frankenstein story. Two boys (Bill and Robin) and a girl (Lena) grow up together. Bill and Robin both love Lena, but Lena only loves Robin, and she marries him. Bill and Robin just happen to have invented a machine that can reproduce matter (poetically named "The Reproducer" by Bill, though Robin helpfully points out that it might just as easily be called a "Duplicator"), so unbeknownst to Robin, Bill uses it to make a copy of Lena (with her willing cooperation, and the assistance of his very responsible adoptive father, who's a doctor and decides the risks are not that severe). Since the new Lena (now named "Helen") is an exact duplicate, however, she still loves Robin. What to do? Wipe her brain free of all memories, of course, so they can start from scratch. Guess how good an idea that turns out to be. There's a Lacanian allegory of something in all this. Probably the Hollywood star and genre system as filtered through the low-budget British knockoff industry. Or dumb blonde jokes. Maybe both.

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