Tuesday, October 11, 2011

"The Thing from Another World" Still Out of This World

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 67 (of 2003) by Leroy Douresseaux

The Thing from Another World (1951) – B&W
Running time: 87 minutes (1 hour, 27 minutes)
DIRECTOR: Christian Nyby with Howard Hawks (no screen credit)
WRITER: Charles Lederer with Howard Hawks and Ben Hecht (neither received screen credit); (based upon a story by John W. Campbell, Jr.)
PRODUCER: Howard Hawks
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Russell Harlan (D.o.P.)
EDITOR: Roland Gross
COMPOSER: Dimitri Tiomkin


Starring: Margaret Sheridan, Kenneth Tobey, Robert Cornthwaite, Douglas Spencer, James R. Young, Dewey Martin, and James Arness

There’s no doubt. As corny as The Thing from Another World can be, it is one of the great sci-fi/horror films of all time, a true classic. I’ve it seen several times, and it remains a favorite of mine. I find it as creepy today as I did the first time I saw it almost two decades ago.

A group of scientists and military personnel at an Arctic research station discover a spacecraft buried in the ice. After accidentally destroying the ship, they manage to recover the body of an alien frozen in a block of ice, which they take back to the research station. During the first night, they accidentally thaw the creature from the ice, and it begins to hunt them.

The Thing from Another World is a film definitely of its time, hinting at the Cold War paranoia in America that was an element of some many sci-fi films, but it is still a creepy thrill, dated as it might seem. I always have a good time watching the research station’s occupants fight for the lives with the most serene attitudes. Everybody is so relaxed and chilled, talking about ordinary things like dating and having a good time with the friends, all the while they’re fighting for their lives. I think it makes us identify with the characters, especially the military guys, as if they were regular folks.

Christian Nyby, a protégé of famed film director/producer Howard Hawks, who produced this film, is credited as this movie’s director. However, many film historians and fans have said that this film bears Hawk’s imprint, so he either directed it in total or in part; at that time, a director of Hawk’s stature would not have directed a sci-fi film because doing so was deemed unworthy of an A-list talent.

Attitudes aside, this is a good movie. It certainly lacks the spectacular intensity of today’s hi-octane action-oriented sci-fi/horror movies, but those who can look beyond that will enjoy this gem.

7 of 10

2001 National Film Preservation Board, USA: National Film Registry


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