Who? (1974)

Who? (1974)
5.8
  • 596
  • PG
  • Genre: Mystery
  • Release year: 1974 ()
  • Running time: 93 min
  • Original Title: Who?
  • Voted: 596

After an American scientist is severely injured and scarred in a car crash along the border with East Germany, he is captured by East German military. The scientists use metal implants to save him. Once he's back in the States, no one can tell if it's really him, so an intelligence specialist must determine who is under the "mask".

#PersonCharacters
1Elliott GouldSean Rogers
2Trevor HowardColonel Azarin
3Joseph BovaDr. Martino,Lucas Martino
4Edward GroverFinchley
  • Roboman... Good Grief... Did They Even Make An Extra Nickel From This Lame Re-Titling? by 6

    WHO? (3 outta 5 stars) Actually, the movie was re-titled "Roboman" for its video release (let me guess... some time after "Robocop" came out?) and has some trashy cover art making it look some kind of killer-robot-on-the-loose kind of movie... which this most definitely is not! It's actually a very interesting suspense film/character study... kind of philosophical and very low-key. Elliot Gould stars in one of his finest roles... as a US agent who has to decide whether an important American scientist returning from a Soviet country is, in fact, who he claims to be. A nasty car accident on foreign soil almost killed Dr. Lucas Martino (Joseph Bova). Russian scientists saved his life by placing him in a newly-developed robotic body... but he is hardly recognizable as human anymore... so there is some questions as to whether he really IS Dr. Martino... or a Soviet agent pretending to be him to gain access to an important defense project. The entire movie deals with Gould's quest for the truth... and a very interesting story it is, too. The ending is particularly interesting... cross-cutting a final meeting between Gould and Martino with flashbacks to the medical procedure. Is Martino really Martino? And does it really matter? You won't know until the final, fascinating moments.

  • For Fans of Oddities by 6

    For those like myself who enjoy films that fit into no particular genre, and would enjoy a scene like a silver-headed metal man happily driving a tractor, this thing may be for you. ROBO MAN, as it is known on the video box, is a pretty strange affair. It is actually more psychological cat and mouse game than anything else, with the poor, metal-headed guy caught in the middle. The movie intercuts scenes of Gould trying to pick the metal man's brain to find out if he is who he says he is/was, with scenes of Trevor Howard appearing to brainwash the same guy at an earlier date. The intriguing notion is that Gould has such respect for the ability of his perceived enemy (Howard), that NOTHING the metal man says will prove who he is to Gould. I left the movie uncertain whether Gould's stubbornness helped or harmed humanity.

    Also, it may have been intentional, but Gould acts more robot-like than Mr. Metalhead. The performance of Metaldude is actually quite affecting. Kudos to Joe Bova.

  • The spy thriller meets Alexandre Dumas..... by 8

    ...and "Le Vicomte De Bragelonne" and its iron mask. At the beginning of his career ,Jack Gold made movies which were anything but derivative: think of "Catholics"(also featuring T.Howard) or "the Medusa touch" .

    "Who" is an overlooked spy thriller ,which takes elements from "Manchurian candidate", "seconds " and Alexandre Dumas and brings them all back home;without special effect,or almost,he creates a thoroughly disturbing atmosphere ,helped by a superlative performance by J.Bova who succeeds in making his character endearing and extremely moving ,against all odds.

    Eliott Gould's investigation does not matter much,it's not essential;the subject of the movie is "is life worth living when you've become "inhuman"?" (that perfectly explains the final death of the "second " Martino).

    Some scenes are extraordinary,spooky ,without the usual horror paraphernalia :Martino walking through the streets of the city is a great moment;the mask ,which could look like that of an ET ,a serial killer or a clown, is more frightening (and more human because of those eyes)than the bandages of the invisible man.

    The message is not "can he resume the Neptune project?" but "how can

    he find a reason to believe and to live?"If you find a way,everything's possible:it's hope for people who think they are no longer part of the human race (is there a reason to be proud of being part of them anyway?)

    let this sleeper be an introduction to the other Gold movies I mention above.

  • A very odd seventies spy thriller by 6

    1973: American scientist Lucas Martino is seriously hurt and mutilated during a car accident in East Germany. The best doctors in the Communist state are doing the best to save his life, making him a kind of early cyborg with his head and most parts of his body covered or replaced by metal. Returning to the U.S.A. with a completely new "outfit", the F.B.I. tries to find out if it's the same person or an Eastern spy who's aim is getting information on a top secret military project.

    What could have been a very interesting and thrilling seventies spy story is just a lame movie about a robot man walking around stupidly. The acting is dull, but you can't blame main actor Joseph Bova as is is constantly acting with a mask on his face. The Cold-War-Conflict is just a background for a silly love story, and the worst is Bova's "make-up", as the robot outfit looks rather like the iron man of the "Wizard of Oz" or a funny figure from an old Disney movie instead of being a symbol for a human tragedy. The "Who?" script is a promising idea for a film, but the production itself is disappointing, and even stars like Elliot Gould and Trevor Howard can't rescue this movie.

  • Underrated & hugely misunderstood - but highly intelligent and rewarding by 8

    Some of the negative reviews here seem to be because of not paying proper attention to the story (particularly, understanding the clever flashback structure), and/or getting hung up over the makeup/tin head effects. Its a huge shame that these might dissuade people from seeing this brilliant film.

    The appearance of Lucas Martino (the tin man) is irrelevant. What matters is that all the FBI has to go on to identify him is his responses. Another reviewer (no doubt distracted by facebook rather than actually watching) mentioned 'why don't they just compare his fingerprints?' but its explained in the film that whilst the arm may belong to Martino, it doesn't guarantee that the head/mind does.

    At its heart, the film explores a fascinating theme about identity, what makes a person who they are in a way that couldn't be imitated and taught to someone else. Between the lines is a chess-game style thought-battle between two sides, figuring out what to do with this guy, and trying to solve the puzzle of how to prove that someone is who they say they are. There's a desperate, tragic and lonely feeling underlying the conversations, when trying to distill the very essence of a person's humanity.

    What really makes the idea work is the meticulous structure of the film - we see the present day situation of the FBI trying to figure out who he is, intercut with flashbacks of the Russians questioning him and figuring out whether to send back a spy instead. So the audience has to think and consider all the angles along with both the Russian spy commander and the FBI agent, trying to second guess events but never really knowing for sure who the man is (or more importantly - HOW to know) until the very end.

    I've seen this film at least six times and still enjoy its ideas and main philosophical puzzle each time, despite knowing the outcome. Its such a great shame that people are so blind-sided by the lack of action, the dodgy makeup effects, the woeful mis-marketing and obvious low budget of the film to recognise what is actually a great story, and a very intelligently structured film.

    There are two particularly ropy moments - a car-chase/shootout at an airport, and a completely pointless/unnecessary moment where an agent chases our mystery man across a road, runs into the side of a car, then leaps over its hood and ends up dead. Next scene: mystery man says "Sorry about Finchley". FBI agents ignores it, moves into next line of questioning. Its pretty absurd. If these stupid shoe- horned attempts at 'action' were cut out completely, it would be a better film.

    I would love to see a polished remake of this story by someone like Chris Nolan or Denis Villeneuve - taking the flashback structure and running with it to really explore the themes and push the emotional side into new territories. It would surely be a classic of philosophical sci-fi.

    Genuinely, this is one of my favourite movies of all time.

#PersonCrew
1Petrus R. Schlömpcinematographer
2John Cameroncomposer
3Jack Golddirector
4Barry Levinsonproducer
5John Gouldwriter
6Algis Budryswriter