Early Hammer film that’s based on the novel by William F. Temple. This is well worth seeking out. Three childhood friends return to their home village. Two are scientists and the other hasn’t succeeded at anything. They work together on a revolutionary experiment.
The movie is told via flashback by local doctor Harvey (James Hayter). Everyone calls him Doc. Robin (John Van Eyssen), Bill (Stephen Murray) and Lena (Barbara Payton) are all best friends growing up. Robin is from a rich family. Bill’s father was the village drunk before getting killed in a pub brawl. Doc becomes his mentor and Lena is taken to America. After that Robin and Bill are off to Cambridge where they major in science.
All three end up back in the village. Robin and Bill have taken over a barn for their experiments. Lena comes back depressed. Doc talks her into being a ministering angel to the guys. Robin’s father Sir Walter gave them a thousand pounds so they could work. Now he’s cutting them off since nothing has happened. Doc goes into his savings and the work continues.
Time to unveil their invention. It’s called a reproducer. It’ll duplicate absolutely anything. They demonstrate by making an exact copy of Doc’s pocket watch. Now they get Sir Walter on their side when they reproduce a blank check he signed. To avoid any misuse of the reproducer they’ll work with the government. At a party celebrating their success Bill asks Doc to talk to Lena. He’s always had it bad for her and he wants to find out where she stands. That’s when Robin and Lena walk into the room and announce their getting married. Bill is shaken but maintains control.
Robin and Lena head for London on their honeymoon. Bill goes back to the reproducer and experiments on small animals. Doc helps and eventually they succeed. Lena comes back from London while Robin is working out agreements with government officials. Bill takes her aside and confesses how he’s always felt. Then he asks her if he can duplicate her. After a short while she agrees.
The experiment works. Bill calls the duplicate Helen. She has all of Lena’s memories from the time of her creation. The two go off on a two week vacation and everything’s fine. Doc has some nagging doubts. Turns out he’s right as there are things they all knew but never considered.
Even though the term clone has been around since 1903 it was never used in the movie.
Barbara Payton’s real life story kept the scandal sheets in business as she self destructed.