“Doomwatch” (1972)

Made in 1972 and based on the popular (in the UK) television series of the same name, Doomwatch the movie is a low key but engrossing ecological thriller.  Earnest performances from the cast help a lot.  Here’s the trailer.

The Doomwatch TV series, which ran between 1970-72 on the BBC (but apparently not in the US), centered on a British government agency, the “Department for the Observation and Measurement of Scientific Work”(AKA “Doomwatch”),  led by Dr. Quist (John Paul) and his associates Dr. Ridge (Simon Oates), Dr. Chantry (Jean Trend), and researcher Colin Bradley (Joby Blanshard).  Their job was to investigate any scientific research or situation that could be harmful to the human race.  All four characters appear in the film, but in supporting roles, as the film’s protagonist is one Dr. Del Shaw (Ian Bannen).

Shaw, a no-nonsense type of guy,  gets assigned by Dr. Quist to investigate some strange goings-on at the small island based fishing village of Balfe. Shaw has to find out if the odd  events on Balfe are somehow connected to a recent oil tanker spill in the waters surrounding the island.   Despite facing nasty locals who try to scare him off, Shaw and the local schoolteacher Victoria Brown (Judy Geeson), with some help from the Doomwatch gang, discover the villagers’ awful (at least in 1972) secret.

Directed by Peter Sasdy from a screenplay by Clive Exton, and featuring one of the last performances by movie icon George Sanders (who passed away the year this was released), Doomwatch is a underplayed science fiction thriller that holds the audience’s attention.  The film’s conclusion is bittersweet, yet it’ll resonate long afterwards. Check out Doomwatch.

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