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The Medusa Touch (1978)

Psychological thriller about a telekinetic novelist who causes disasters simply by thinking about them.


Jack Gold


John Briley (screenplay), Peter Van Greenaway (novel)
1 nomination. See more awards »




Cast overview, first billed only:
Richard Burton ... John Morlar
Lino Ventura ... Detective-inspector Brunel
Lee Remick ... Dr. Zonfeld
Harry Andrews ... Assistant Commissioner
Alan Badel ... Quinton - Barrister
Marie-Christine Barrault ... Patricia Morlar
Jeremy Brett ... Edward Parrish
Michael Hordern ... Altropos - Fortune Teller
Gordon Jackson ... Dr. Johnson
Michael Byrne ... Sergeant Duff
Derek Jacobi ... Moulton - John's publisher
Robert Lang ... Pennington
Avril Elgar Avril Elgar ... Mrs. Pennington
John Normington ... Mr. Copley - John's schoolmaster
Robert Flemyng ... Judge McKinley


John Morlar is watching the British television broadcast when an anchorman states that American astronauts are trapped in orbit around the moon. Suddenly someone in Morlar's room picks up a figurine and strikes him on the head repeatedly. His blood splatters the television screen. A French police inspector, Brunel, arrives at Morlar's apartment to begin an investigation. At first he thinks Morlar is dead, but soon he hears him breathe. At the hospital, Morlar is hooked up to life support systems, one machine in particular monitors the activity of his battered brain. Brunel discovers that Morlar has been in psychological analysis because of his history of being witness to many disasters, other people's disasters. Dr. Zonfeld, Morlar's analyst, explains that Morlar's delusions had begun when he was a child. He believed that he had caused a hated nanny's death. Morlar's childhood delusions were reinforced at a resort when he overheard his parents discussing him with disapproval. When his... Written by alfiehitchie

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Richard Burton is the man with the medusa touch ... he has the power to create catastrophe.


Horror | Sci-Fi


16 | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »



UK | France



Release Date:

31 August 1978 (Netherlands) See more »

Also Known As:

O Toque da Medusa See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Color (Technicolor) (as Technicolor®)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


The film was made two years after its source novel of the same name by Peter Van Greenaway had been first published in 1975. The movie is the only ever theatrical feature film adaptation of one of Greenaway's books. See more »


As Inspector Brunel watches the TV news a close-up of the screen reveals that the caption saying "Minster Cathedral" is actually stuck on to the TV screen rather than forming part of the TV picture. The letters cast shadows on to the glass. See more »


Doctor Zonfeld: [describing Morlar to Brunel] Most of my patients find the world too much for them. He was too much for the world.
See more »

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User Reviews

The Devil's Pawn
30 December 2005 | by thinker1691See all my reviews

The Medusa Touch is the fantastic story of a middle age English man tormented by the terrifying revelation, he is responsible for the the world's disasters. Richard Burton gives an impressive performance as writer John Morlar, who is brutally murdered and left for dead. Trouble is, his mind refuses to die. Convinced, from a young age, Morlar believes he has had the power to cause personal as well as world catastrophes. To prove his point, he snares a fully-loaded flying 747 jumbo jet and causes it to crash into a high rise apartment building, killing hundreds. The case is investigated by French Inspector Brunel (Supurbly played by Lino Ventura) who is convinced, Morlar's personal psychiatrist, Doctor Zonfeld (Lee Remick in one of her finest roles), is harboring a horrifying secret which eventually engulfs them both. The film is a masterpiece, combining the attributes of in your seat suspense and visual scenes which are further enhanced by a haunting musical score. With veteran actors like Harry Andrews, Alan Badel, Michael Hordern, and Derek Jacobi, the movie becomes a classic drama of unparalleled achievement. *****

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