|The poster reminds me of the|
later film "The Wicker Man."
The deceit starts to unravel quickly. One of the students ill-advisely confides in a faculty advisor. Avery also starts having second thoughts about his role in the scam. But those troubles are nothing in comparison to the sudden death of one of the students. After being admitted to a hospital for hypoglycemia, he dies after being administered the wrong medication based on his computerized medical records. An unfortunate accident or a murder engineered by the computer-created Henry Norman?
Originally broadcast on CBS in 1971, Paper Man was made during what I consider the "Golden Age" of made-for-TV movies in the U.S. Bolstered by the success of the ABC Movie of the Week, all three major networks financed dozens of made-for-TV movies in all kinds of genres. There were comedies (The Girl Who Came Gift-Wrapped ), horror (Gargoyles), drama (Judge Horton and the Scottsboro Boys), Westerns (Yuma), and action films (The Birdmen). The most popular genre, though, was suspense and Paper Man was an above-average entry with an ingenius premise and a cast featuring Stockwell, James Stacy, and Stefanie Powers.
In 1971, Dean Stockwell was in the midst of a career tailspin, sandwiching Paper Man between lackluster efforts such as The Dunwich Horror and The Werewolf of Washington. He wouldn't get his once-promising career back on track until 1986 with a memorable supporting performance in David Lynch's Blue Velvet.
James Stacy had just completed a two-year run on the CBS Western series Lancer. A motorcycle accident, in which he lost an arm and a leg, stalled his career. Still, he gave an impressive performance in Kirk Douglas's political Western Posse (1975) and earned two Emmy nominations for his later work. In 1995, he was charged with child molestation and eventually served a sentence in prison.
As for Paper Man, it's not an underrated gem--merely an above-average TV film with a great premise that's only partially developed. The lack of suspects certainly hurts. In the end, the only question is whether the murderer will turn out to be a "technological killer" or a human murderer. Still, the film has its fans--enough to warrant a videotape release--and, if you're feeling nostalgic about those memorable 1970s made-for-TV films, then you should definitely check out Paper Man.