My choice for this week's overlooked flick is a 1955 mystery/espionage movie with a soupcon of science fiction: The Atomic Man (original UK title Timeslip). A man has been fished out of the river after being shot in the back. A photograph taken at the time shows a halo around the victim's head. Reporter Mike Delaney, smelling a big story, investigates.
At first, the victim appears to be a Dr. Raynor, an atomic scientist. But the real Dr. Raynor seems to be alive and well and working in an atomic laboratory. This Dr. Raynor, however, has his face bandaged -- the result of a recent car accident. The shooting victim is not any help; he seems to be talking nonsense. It's not nonsense of course: radiation has affected his brain and has put it seven and a half seconds ahead in time -- the victim has actually been answering questions that had not yet been asked.
After that interesting science fictional conceit, the movie then goes back into thriller territory. the trail leads Mike to the real villain Vasquo and to a South American tungsten concern. Mike digs too deep and is fired; he and his girlfriend dig deeper and discover an industrial espionage plot. The pace quickens, danger looms, and Mike must risk all to save his girlfriend.
Despite a number of standard tropes, this is a surprisingly good and intelligent movie. Evidently, the story was first used by the screenwriter, Charles Eric Maine, as a 30-minute BBC television show. Maine (real name David McIlwain) then wrote the movie and finally wrote it as a novel, The Isotope Man, the first of three books featuring Mike Delaney. (References stating that the movie was based on the book did not look closely at the book's copyright date.)