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The Man Who Could Work Miracles

The Man Who Could Work Miracles(1937)


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In the starry heavens, the gods argue over the fate of the small planet known as Earth. As an experiment to test the human heart and spirit, they decide to give one human, picked at random, ultimate power. That night, George McWhirter Fotheringay, an obscure little clerk in a small English town, enters the neighborhood pub, The Long Dragon, where a discussion of miracles is taking place among the patrons. To prove that a miracle is contrary to the laws of nature, George orders a lamp to turn over. To his own astonishment, the lamp turns over on command and crashes to the floor. George is immediately thrown out of the pub, and returns home to amuse himself with his new "gift." The next day, George goes to his job at the drapery shop of Girgsby and Blott's, where he tells his fellow sales clerk, Maggie Hooper, of his newly found powers. To convince her of his sincerity, he heals Maggie's sprained arm and removes another clerk's freckles. At lunch, the clerks discuss George's gift for miracles, and Bill Stoker tell him that he should use it to make money, while Maggie insists that he seek religious guidance on the matter.

When the shop closes, George shocks his employer by cleaning up his department in a matter of seconds with his gift. As he wanders home, George is harassed by Constable P. C. Winch, whom he promptly wishes "to Hades." George then transports Winch from the netherworld to San Francisco, where the policeman soon finds himself under psychiatric observation. Later that night, George runs into Ada Price, a co-worker whom he loves. When Ada tells George that she could never return his love, he attempts to use his power to force her to love him. To his chagrin, George learns that his power cannot change the human heart.

The next day, George is ordered to meet with his boss, Girgsby, who offers him a partnership in exchange for exclusive use of his "miracles." The two then meet with Mr. Bamfylde, a banker, who warns George against freely giving his miracles to people, as human society is based on want. Confused, George visits Maggie at her home, and she once again tells him to visit the local Baptist minister, Mr. Maydig. Maydig sees George's gift as an opening to a "Golden Age," with "peace and plenty" for all. To begin this new era, Maydig asks George to turn Colonel Winstanley's alcohol to water, and his collection of military weapons into farm implements. The next day, the retired military officer has George summoned to his home by the police, where George tells him of Maydig's grand plan for a new world. Winstanley then meets with the local business leaders and decides that George must be assassinated. While George and Maydig walk in the country, Winstanley shoots George in the head, but George uses his gift to cure himself and disarm Winstanley.

Outraged, George decides to make himself ruler of the world, with Maydig and Bamfylde his counsellors, Winstanley his sergeant at arms, and Ada and Maggie as his "queens." He then orders all the leaders of the world to gather before him. George demands that they immediately change the world to one of his liking, or he will banish them all. When they ask for time to meet George's demand, he insists that they complete the task before sunrise and he stops the Earth's rotation, causing a global catastrophe. As he flies through space, George asks for one final miracle: the loss of his power and the return of the world to the way it was. Finding himself back outside the pub, George enters and tries to make the lamp turn itself. As the patrons laugh at his folly, George realizes that he has lost his powers for good. In the heavens, the gods decide to give man power, little by little, as he acquires the wisdom to use it wisely.