🚀 “Keep watching the skies!” Science Fiction cinema of the 1950s- The year is 1951- Part 2

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CONTINUED!

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AND DON’T FORGET TO RE-VISIT THE FABULOUS CLASSIC MOVIE HISTORY PROJECT BLOGATHON 2016!

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Click Here for the original introduction to the series!

X MAN, trips to MARS, Lost Continents, Men in White Suits, the man in red silk underwear-SUPERMAN, a Super Intellectual Carrot– plus lots more!

Flight to Mars

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Flight to Mars _1951

Fligth to Mars 1951

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The Earthlings…

flight to mars

The Martians…

Fifty Years Into The Future!–The Most Fantastic Expedition Ever Conceived by Man!

Director Lesley Selander with a screenplay by Arthur Strawn  (The Black Room 1935, The Man Who Lived Twice 1936) Selander it seems is more known for his work with westerns both on the big screen and television set. The film stars Marguerite Chapman as Alita, Cameron Mitchell as Steve Abbott, Arthur Franz as Dr. Jim Barker, Virginia Huston as Carol Stafford, John Litel as Dr. Lane, and Morris Ankrum as Ikron who became an incredibly familiar supportive player in many of these fantastic films of the 1950s, (Rocketship X-M 1950, Red Planet Mars 1952, Invaders from Mars 1953, Earth vs. the Flying Saucers 1956, Beginning of the End 1957, Kronos 1957, The Giant Claw 1957, Zombies of Mora Tau 1957, Half Human 1958 and How to Make a Monster 1958.)

With special effects and art direction by Edward S. Hayworth, Jack Cosgrove, and cited by Fantascene Irving Block (matte artist for Invaders from Mars 1953, Forbidden Planet 1956, Kronos 1957, The Giant Behemoth 1959) was responsible for the impressive design and over all look of the picture with cinematography by Harry Neumann (The Land of Missing Men 1930, Vanity Fair 1932, The Thirteenth Guest 1932, When Strangers Meet 1934, The Mysterious Mr. Wong 1939, The Fatal Hour 1940, Doomed to Die 1940, The Face of Marble 1946, The Maze 1953 in 3D!, A Bullet for Joey 1955, My Gun is Quick 1957, The Wasp Woman 1959)

Flight to Mars telescope

Flight to Mars 1951 lobby card color

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After the reception that Destination Moon and Rocketship X-M got at the box office it’s no big leap to see why there would follow a film like Flight to Mars (1951) though 1951 and the rest of the 1950s decade wasn’t more jam packed with other films that forayed into space voyage. What became more noticeable was that the aliens–came here! Most likely to to budgetary constraints filming on location on Earth seems to make a lot more sense as it was cheaper to pull off. Along comes Monogram pictures, that became Allied Artists, who ventured into the landscapes of Mars, with a story filled with the sub-plot of earthly melodrama and cliché battle of the sexes on board.

flight_to_mars_1951 arthur franz

Flight to Mars offered little pesky problems, like weightlessness, meteor showers, a contemplative pipe smoking Arthur Franz as scientist Jim Barker who spends so much time calculating their trip to Mars that he can’t see that Carol Stafford (Virginia Huston) is hopelessly in love with him. Cameron Mitchell plays newspaper man Steve Abbott, who is the ‘man’s man’ there to act as brawn and counter-balance to the intellectual egg-headedness of the brainy types on board including Dr. Lane (John Litel) and Professor Jackson (Richard Gaines) also scientists on board.

Flight to Mars brain and brawn

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“You listening Carol, I think you are a prize package and VERY feminine… {…} I sure do Mr. engineer and I don’t have to look in a test tube to find out.”– Steve

Flight to Mars Cameron Mithell "close enough to the man in the moon to talk to him"

The extent of Steve Abbott’s philosophizing “Close enough to the man in the moon to talk to him.”

Flight to Mars 5

As Bill Warren writes, “It’s as if a law (the law of the box office) was laid down for makes of science fiction films of the 1950s; a man could not be both brilliant and amusing ; he couldn’t be both a genius and a lover, both a scientist and a sinner.; both skilled with his brains and with his fists. Wisecracks, sexual drive and heroics were usually allotted to one or two other characters. The scientist was almost always a loner with the faraway look of dreams in his eyes., never also a down to-Earth regular Joe who was also a brilliant researcher.

It stands to reason then that Carol would run straight into the arms of the hero, Steve Abbott, who notices that she’s “really feminine.”

Flight to Mars crash land orange sky

flight to mars the orange sky and towers

When the ship crash lands on Mars, and the sky burns a brilliant orange things get pretty exciting for the crew and us when they spot strange structures as part of the landscape. Enter steady science fiction player Morris Ankrum as the duplicitous Martian named Ikron, who not only looks very human but is quite eloquent with his use of the English language due to the fact that he has studied us from our radio and television broadcasts, and have know of their impending arrival. Ikron takes the earth men underground to their city dwelling with cars and air ships (animated) to show how advanced their civilization is.

flgiht to mars animated underground technology

Flight to Mars

OSA MASSEN Character(s): Dr. Lisa Van Horn Film 'ROCKETSHIP X-M' (1950) Directed By KURT NEUMANN 26 May 1950 CTW88028 Allstar/Cinetext/LIPPERT PICTURES **WARNING** This photograph can only be reproduced by publications in conjunction with the promotion of the above film. For Editorial Use Only.
OSA MASSEN
Character(s): Dr. Lisa Van Horn
Film ‘ROCKETSHIP X-M’ (1950)
Directed By KURT NEUMANN
26 May 1950
CTW88028
Allstar/Cinetext/LIPPERT PICTURES

Incidentally Alamy has mis-marked this photograph as Osa Massen when clearly it is Flight to Mars…

Flight To Mars 1951 B&W lobby card

Flight To Mars

The truth is that the Martians are running out of their precious resource of Corium and without the planet will become uninhabitable and they will perish. The Martians plan on hijacking the Earth rocket, use their technology to produce more rockets like ours and then conquer the Earth! But among these nefarious Martians are those who want to help them escape, like Tillamar played by Robert Barrat (Captain Blood 1935, The Life of Emile Zola 1937, Relentless 1948, and his last appearance as the kind father Stoney Likens in The Alfred Hitchcock Hour’s incredible episode Return of Verge Likens 1964) and his beautiful daughter Alita played by Marguerite Chapman  (Charlie Chan in the Wax Museum 1940, Appointment in Berlin 1943, Strange Affair 1944, The Green Promise 1949, The Seven Year Itch 1955)

Marguerite Chapman

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Ikron finds out about the little insurrection taking place as he has a pretty spy Terris (Lucille Barkley) who alerts him to everything that is going on. Alita who has also fallen in love with brainy boy scientist Dr. Jim Baker (Arthur Franz) is a true heroine and helps the crew lift off Mars and away from her treacherous father and his evil plans.

Flight to Mars the spy

Steve Abbott: Dr. Lane, I once heard of a man who climbed a higher mountain than anyone else alive, but he was never able to get down again. What’s left of him is still up there.

Dr. Lane: The point is, Steve, he made it.

Flight to Mars the ship

Steve Abbott: [looking at the Earth through the port hole of the spaceship] Ah, the Earth seems so big when you’re on it… from out here so small and nothing. It’s like closing your eyes in the dark and suddenly you’re alone with your soul.

Lost Continent

The Lost Continent

Directed by Sam Newfield (The Terror of Tiny Town 1938, The Mad Monster 1942, Dead Men Walk 1943, I Accuse My Parents 1944) starring Cesar Romero as Maj. Joe Nolan, Hillary Brooke as Marla Stevens, Chick Chandler as Lt. Danny Wilson, John Hoyt as Michael Rostov, Acquanetta as ‘Native Girl’, Sid Melton as Sgt. Willie Tatlow, Whit Bissell as Stanley Briggs and Hugh Beaumont as Robert Phillips. Cinematography by Jack Greenhalgh and Augie Lohman (Barbarella 1968) in charge of visual effects and stop motion animation.

Let’s just get Hillary Brooke out of the way now, as she doesn’t crash land on the Lost Continent, as Marlashe only gets to dance with Cesar Romero before his flight leaves for parts unknown!

Hillary and Cesar in Lost Continent 1951jpg

Lost Continent 1950 lobby card dinosaurs

Somehow dinosaurs seems to go along with rocket ships and exploration of lands without and within. So naturally a lot of fantasy/adventure films are considers little lost continents amidst the Sci-Fi genre. According to Bill Warren, dinosaurs were actually a potential plot mechanism thought of by Robert Lippert for Rocketship X-M, thank the space-gods that the film maintains it’s integrity with just a civilization of savages wiped out by nuclear holocaust.

As Bill Warren cites in his bible for the 1950s genre there was a “tradition of blending phony Old Native Legends with some new, science fictional story elements.”

Lost Continent lobby card

Lost Continent lobby card

An atomic powered rocket craps out over the South Pacific, and so a rescue mission led by Maj. Joe Nolan (Cesar Romero) is sent out to find the crew, aided by his co-pilot Danny (Chick Chandler) and cracking wise Sergeant Willie Tatlow played by Sid Melton who adds the comic-relief (Sophia Petrillo’s smart-alecky Sal, ‘May he rest in peace til I get there’) Along is Ward Clever, no wait he was a Sea-Bee, teehee Hugh Beaumont as top scientist Robert Phillips and scientists Michael Rostov played by the other ubiquitous supportive actor John Hoyt and Stanley Briggs played by the other very familiar face Whit Bissell who is terrified by a giant lizard one night and falls off the side of the mountain.

Major Joe Nolan: Look at the size of that footprint! I’ve never seen anything like it before!

Robert Phillips: I have. Once… in a museum.

Lost Continent Brontasaurus

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The crew crash lands just coincidentally in the same spot as the prior ship, and they find themselves on an Island (tinted in glorious green at the mountain top ) not only filled with volcanic activity but is radio-active AND it’s inhabited by the sultry Acquanetta (Captive Wild Woman 1943, Tarzan and the Leopard Woman 1946) a native girl who remained after all the others fled when they saw the great fire-bird fly over head and made the earth tremble.

Acquanetta born Mildred Davenport of Ozone, Wyoming.

Acquanetta_005_(Tarzan and the Leopard Woman)

Here she is in Tarzan and the Leopard Woman 1946

Lost Coninent -Acquanetta

She also warns them not to climb the mountain as it is a ‘sacred mountain taboo’ which is the home of her gods. The crew is also getting a bit mistrustful of Rostov after all he is a Russian ex-patriot and has ice water in his veins. Joe gives him a dig after Briggs falls to his death pondering if he in fact just let the poor man fall, “another one of your–unpredictables?”

Lost Continent crew

The island or Lost Continent is a pressure cooker of vapors, clouds, greenery and uranium fields that might just blow! All this radioactivity must have been what brought down both rockets. and as one of them points out as “powerful as a stockpile of hydrogen bombs…”

The crew shoot a flying reptile minding it’s own business, there’s a gratuitous dinosaur fight between horned beasts and a brontosaurus ( which I thought were leaf eaters hhm, I’ll have to look that up) chases Phillips up a tree. The crew is befuddled by the presence of prehistoric dinosaurs, but Hollywood isn’t so they’ll just have to deal. Phillips asks,  “Who can explain it?… it’s an impossibility, yet here we are right in the middle of it!” 

The film even gets to stick some anti-red sentiment in there as the stranded crew from the rocket-ship come to find out that Rostov not only didn’t sabotage the rocket but is a regular ‘Joe/Mike’, who lost his wife in a concentration camp and considers some of his Russian countrymen ‘villains’ who he wants to go back and fight against them ‘pushing buttons on more rockets.’

Finally they find their ship nose down in the earth, but they can’t get near it because there is a large brontosaurus and a triceratops hanging around, and Willie winds up getting gored to death. Then the earthquakes begin but the survivors make it out to sea on a raft just as the whole mountain blows up!

The Man from Planet X

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Directed by Edgar G. Ulmer (People on Sunday 1930, The Black Cat 1934, Detour 1945, The Strange Woman 1945, Ruthless 1948, Daughter of Dr. Jekyll 1957, The Amazing Transparent Man 1960)

Written by Aubrey Wisberg and Jack Pollexfen (The Secret of Convict Lake 1951, Captive Women 1952, Port Sinister 1953, The Neanderthal Man 1953, Five Bold Women 1960.)

Stars Robert Clarke as John Lawrence, Margaret Field as Enid Elliot, Raymond Bond as Prof. Elliot, and William Schallert as Dr. Mears.

Though this is a very low budget film, I have an affection for it’s unassuming and atmospherically charming tone and I actually had an action figure of the alien as part of a series released in the late 60s, early 70s which included the winged angel from Barbarella!

Man from Planet X jpg

Okay enough meandering down nostalgic Warren Drive, Long Island USA.

The sets were left overs from Joan of Arc (1948) at Hal Roach Studios. Ulmer designed the ship that resembled less of a space craft and more like ‘diving bell that was lowered into our dense atmosphere -Bill Warren. The film’s use of low lighting hides that fact that set and the interior ship design was constructed out of plywood. Inside the alien suit it is suggested was a little person or person of short stature actor possibly Billy Curtis. According to Warren, as described in the script, his face had the look of being distorted by pressure, or as if similar to a ritual mask belonging to a primitive tribe. The lighting adds to the unique quality of his expressionless face.

The_Man_from_Planet_X_ enid sees the ship

The film opens with American reporter John Lawrence (Robert Clarke-The Astounding She Monster 1957, The Hideous Sun Demon 1959) narrating in voice-over his panic over the well being of both Professor Elliot and his daughter Enid who have been taken back to a space craft by the alien from planet X. As he paces the observatory tower floor he begins to relate the strange story that has unfolded in the past few days. He fears for their lives as well as his own.

Lawrence was sent to a remote Scottish Isle Burray in the Orkneys, to see Professor Elliot (Raymond Bond) after a wandering planet called ‘X’ is spotted in our solar system and is approaching Earth, estimated coming close to the Orkneys. John Lawrence stays with Dr. Mears played by extremely likable and oft seen William Schallert, although in this film he plays a rather suspicious and brooding character who has a mistrust of Williams. John Williams also meets his lovely daughter Enid played by Margaret Field. This science fiction gem has a sub-plot as most do where love gets to blossom, as Enid and John they take a foggy drive then a cozy walk along the moors, they encounter a small metallic object and eventually stumble upon an object that they establish is a probe.

The Man from Planet X a fine british love story

As Anthony Newley sings from his and Leslie Bricusse’s song from their award winning musical The Roar of the Greasepaint –the Smell of the Crowd“Look at that Face, just look at it!”

Man from Planet X looks at Enid

Later that night Enid gets a flat tire and walks back across the moors in the shrouded mysterious late night fog where she comes upon a sphere with an observation glass and she looks in, a strange face peers out at her!

X-shows his face

Enid runs and gets her father, and when they arrive back at the ship to inspect it, a light shines in her father’s face and becomes temporarily submissive. The laser gun creates a calming light zone where people not only comply, but can understand the droning language of the alien from X. When Lawrence and Mears go back to investigate the Man from Planet X comes out once again to greet them. In a very interesting scene, this adorable alien attempts to judge whether these earth men can be trusted, so he turns off his air supply until Lawrence realizes what he is doing he turns his air back on and from that point he sees that Lawrence can be trusted.

Dr. Mears is another matter entirely. The Man from Planet X has not come to Earth meaning any harm, and only turns defense and hostile after the greedy Mears bares his viciously aggressive teeth–bad scientist, bad bad scientist!

The Man from Planet X Enid and Dad get zapped by beam

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The Man From Planet X 1951

The Man from Planet X

The Man from Planet X Enid is scared

The Man from Planet X alien follows them home

The alien follows both men back to the tower where they’re staying, but he’s left with the greedy Mears who only wants to exploit the poor little gray guy in the cutest little space suit ever. He discovers great cosmic secrets from Mr. alien X conversing within the universal language of mathematics. The nasty Mears tries to subdue him by turning his oxygen source on low but once he revives and takes Mears and Enid with him back to the ship, later taking Professor Elliot and several villagers along with him putting them in the same hypnotic trance forming a wall around his ship.

The man from planet x Dr Mears intimidates x

Dr. Mears: [to the Man from Planet X –laughing] Dr. Mears: To think – a fantastic gnome like you had to hurdle out of space to put this power in my hands. Well, now that we’ve made contact, I’m gonna tear out every secret you’ve got!

the-man-from-planet-x dr mears is dangerous

man_from_planet_x he comes in peae

the-man-from-planet-x-LAwrence and the alien

The Man from Planet X dr under light

the man from planet x villagers and contsable

Planet X is drawing nearer to Earth… Roy Engle as Tommy the Constable calls in the military. John Lawrence manages to awaken the sleep walkers and get them safely away from the ship, while the evil Dr. Mears runs back in the direction of military fire. The space craft and sadly, the alien are blown to smithereens. Planet X in it’s wake creates terrestrial winds, and bright lights — and then disappears into the vastness of outer space once again, perhaps dooming Earth to bad weather?

the man from planet x bad weather

Whether or not The Man from Planet X was an innocent drifter who found himself in a kerfuffle on Earth just trying to survive being in the wrong place at the right time or as Lawrence feared might have been trying to invade the planet… because of his ‘otherness’ he had to be destroyed.

Dr. Mears-” How may we know what processes of thought run through his head? How may we assume he thinks as we do? How may we anticipate what a bizarre and fantastic organism might or might not do?”

The Man from Planet X oxygen tank testing humanity

Down on the ground Alien X has turned off his oxygen to test the earthling’s response. He’s about as aggressive as a kitten going belly up! John turns his air back on.

I have to admit that I am one of the ones who finds Edgar Ulmer’s work fascinating and worthy of it’s cult following as he’s done everything from moody b horror films to film noir. Some more lavish budgets like The Black Cat 1934, and Bluebeard 1944, to film noir masterpieces like Detour (1946) Some poverty row flicks with titles like Girls in Chains, Isle of Forgotten Sins and Jive Junction all made in 1943.

In an interview with film maker Peter Bogdanovich in Kings of the Bs, Ulmer said that he had to do it all for the sake of the money, “I admit to myself that I was somehow schizophrenic in making pictures. On one hand, I was absolutely concerned with the box office and on the other, I was trying to create art and decency with style. I could not completely get out of the commercial though I knew it limited me.” 

The Man from Planet X a diving bell

the man from planet x dr and john look inside the ship

But as Bill Warren says, what ultimately wound up happening because of Ulmer’s hand in The Man From Planet X resulted in ‘the first science fiction gothic horror film.”

An Austrian implant who had a knack for set design. And the lustrous and atmospheric demur of The Man From Planet X  just sets this curious and obscure little gem apart from all the other Sci-Fi films of the 1950s.

Enid Elliot: When I got close to it, it looked like a giant glass ball girdled with something like a steel belt. Three of them, I think. When I got close enough to look in – there it was.

Professor Elliot: It? What?

Enid Elliot: That face! Right on the other side of the glass looking right into mine! I was terrified!

Professor Elliot: A face? A human face?

Enid Elliot: A ghastly caricature like something distorted by pressure. I can’t think how else to describe it – a horrible, grotesque face looking right into my eyes!

Professor Elliot: Your statement has the tinge of fantasy.

the man from planet x diving bell

Enid Elliot: You know, I think that creature was friendly. I wonder what would have happened if… if Dr. Mears hadn’t frightened him.

 John Lawrence: Who knows? Perhaps the greatest curse ever to befall the world, or perhaps the greatest blessing.

The Man from Planet X a curse or blessing

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The Man in the White Suit

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Guinness is Back…Working Wonders With Wile, Whimsey and Wit!–First…Explosions! Then Success! Then Chaos!  

Writer & Director Alexander Mackendrick (The Lady Killers 1955, writer for The Sweet Smell of Success 1957) creates a mood for well respected star Alec Guiness to romp around and wax brilliant as usual this time as scientist Sidney Stratton. The film also stars Joan Greenwood (Kind Hearts and Coronets 1949, Flesh and Blood 1951, Mysterious Island 1961) as Daphne Birnley, Cecil Parker as Alan Birnley, Michael Gough as Michael Corland and the wonderful Ernest Thesiger as the sinister manufacturer Sir John Kierlaw. Henry Mollison as Hoskins, Vida Hope as Bertha.

The Man in the White Suit 1951 guiness

With wonderful music by Benjamin Frankel (The Seventh Veil 1945, Mine Own Executioner 1947, Night and the City 1950, The Long Dark Hall 1950, Footsteps in the Fog 1955, The Night of the Iguana 1964)

The Man in the White Suit takes a satirical approach to science fiction equip with a special machine that whizzes, deweeps klinks and clamors –which lampoons everything sacred including but more affectionately scientific research… and no one can pull it off better than Alec Guiness.

The Man in the White Suit

The Man in the White Suit lab

The Man in the White Suit 1951 factory

Bertha, Birnley Mill worker: [describing Sidney] … flotsam floating on the floodtide of profit.

Chemist Sidney Stratton is convinced he can invent an artificial fabric that will be resistant to stains, and impossible to wear out. After he loses his job at one factory he is aided by the daughter Daphne (Joan Greenwood) of another manufacturer Alan Birnley (Cecil Parker) to let Sidney continue with his experiments.

Sidney does produce a fabric that seems to possess these incredible qualities, and proceeds wear a brilliant incandescent white suit as a demonstration. It’s a small accomplishment toward minor imperative nuisances when you think of all the ills of the world in relation to mustard stains on your Sunday best, but oh well, every contribution helps right! But on second look, the breakthrough of this miracle fabric could  not only mean loss of jobs, it could mean an end to sales all together…

The Man in the White Suit the fabric

In the end even Daphne calls for Sidney to destroy the formula, but as a true scientist only interested in the advancement of mankind and his own ego, he refuses to hear the cry of the people. He tries to hide from the growing mob stubbornly holding onto his discovery regardless of the consequences, but once he is cornered and attacked, the suit falls apart by the clutching hands, which proves that his formula was flawed all along…

But this is satire… and as Sidney walks away defeated by the luddites of industry, he beams a quiet smile realizing that he has a spark of recognition as to the source of the flaw and moves on to correct it, science and progress marches on!

The Man in the WHite Suit Guiness and Greenwood

[Daphne laughs at Sidney’s suit]

Sidney Stratton: What’s funny about it?

Daphne Birnley: It’s just the suit. It looks as if it’s wearing you.

Sidney Stratton: It’s still a bit luminous but it’ll wear off.

Daphne Birnley: Oh, no!

Sidney Stratton: No?

Sidney Stratton: No. Makes you look like a knight in shining armor.

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Guiness and Gough Man in the White Suit

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The MAn in the White Suit Alec Guiness

The Man in the White Suit tea time

Mysterious Island

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Climb aboard the space ship for OUT OF THIS WORLD SERIAL THRILLS!

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“We may brave human laws, but we cannot resist natural ones…

…Solitude, isolation, are painful things and beyond human endurance.”-Jules Verne

Mysterious Island the balloon

Mysterious Island balloon

Directed by Spencer Gordon Bennet stars Richard Crane as Capt. Cyrus Harding, Marshall Reed as Jack Pencroft, Karen Randle as Rulu of Mercury, Ralph Hodges, Gene Roth, Hugh Prosser, and Leonard Penn as Captain Nemo and Bernie Hamilton (The Jackie Robinson Story 1950, One Potato, Two Potato 1964, and Captain Dobey in Starsky and Hutch 1975-1979) as Neb.

The wonderful music by composer Mischa Bakaleinikoff.

Mysterious Island 1951 cast

Mysterious Island Mysterious men

This is a serial in 15 parts based on Jules Verne’s adventure mixed with science fiction and fantasy! With chapters like Lost in Space, Sinister Savages and Men from Tomorrow!

Mysterious Island (French: L’Île mystérieuse) is a novel by Jules Verne, published in 1874.
The adapted story by Lewis Clay and Royal K. Cole

Americans hijack a balloon in 1865 during the Civil War among them five northern prisoners of war who have escaped.

Mysterious Island 1951 Men from Tomorrow

The escapees are Cyrus Smith (Richard Crane) , a railroad engineer in the Union army –Cyrus’ ex-slave and loyal follower Neb (short for Nebuchadnezzar) played by Bernie Hamilton–Jack Pencroff, a sailor played by Marshall Reed–his protégé and adopted son Harbert Brown named Herbert played by Ralph Hodges
–Hugh Prosser plays journalist Gedéon Spilett and Leonard Penn as Captain Nemo.

Mysterious Island captain nemo

Mysterious Island 1951 serial lobby card

Mysterious Island

Mysterious ISland vulcano

Mysterious Island Chapter One (76)

They journey to an unknown island in the South Pacific. They stumble onto Ayrton the wild man (Terry Frost) the character originally seen in Verne’s novel In Search of the Castaways. He has been living among pirates. Gene Roth plays the pirate Captain Shard and his henchman Moley (Rusty Wescoatt)

Another visitation to the Island is Rulu of Mercury played by Karen Randle who navigates around in a superior flying craft than a hot air balloon. Rulu comes from the planet Mercury, she seeks a radio-active substance that will help her create a bomb that will destroy Earth.

Mysterious Island the mercurians

Superman and the Mole-Men

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Superman poster

Superman in his first full feature length adventure!

Director Lee Sholem (Tarzan and the Slave Girl 1950, Tobor the Great 1954, Crime Against Joe 1956, Pharaoh’s Curse 1957, Doomsday Machine 1972) stars George Reeves as the first Superman co-stars Phyllis Coates as Lois Lane, Jeff Corey, Walter Reed, J Rarrell MacDonald.

The idea was created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Schuster who too their story from a number of sources. And between 1951 and 1978, there were no other feature films highlighting the adventures of the man in red underwear and cape from Krypton! Superman and the Mole Men was a pilot for the television series which ran for over 5 years and starred George Reeves. The film was eventually edited down to make a two-part episode for the show called ‘The Strange People.”

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The film shows Clark Kent (Reeves) and Lois Lane (the spunky Phyllis Coates who played Lois in the first season of the show) who come to a town with other reporters where the world’s deepest well is being drilled. But the drill has accidentally broken into a subterranean dwelling of weird little bald beings like something out of OZ, some of whom come up to the Earth’s surface to investigate what is going on. Because they seem to glow from being phosphorescent and nocturnal, people panic assuming that they are creepy, dangerous and radio-active! An angry mob led by Luke Benson (Jeff Corey) decide to hunt these little guys down in cold blood. Of course cue Clark Kent who turns into Superman to protect them. They are able to go back underground where one little fellow uses a science fiction like ray-gun or as it happened to be– an Electrolux vacuum cleaner to seal up the opening again!

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Superman: You’re not going to shoot those little creatures. In the first place, they haven’t done you any harm. In the second place, they may be radioactive.

Superman and the Mole Men 1951

The Thing from Another World

The thing from Another World

The Thing 1951 lobby card

Where did it come from? How did it get here? What is it? Will it destroy us all? Can we escape it? 🚀

Directed by Christian Nyby and an un-credited but by now lauded Howard Hawks Based on the story Who Goes There? by John W. Campbell Jr. and a scintillating and gripping screenplay by Charles Lederer (His Gal Friday 1940, Slightly Dangerous 1943, Kiss of Death 1947, Ride the Pink Horse 1947, The Lady from Shanghai 1947 –uncredited, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes 1953, Oceans 11 (1960), Mutiny on the Bounty 1962)

The Thing From Another World Arness on the set

James Arness on the set of The Thing from Another World (1951)

The Thing JAmes Arness promo shot

This groundbreaking Science Fiction masterpiece stars Kenneth Tobey as Captain Patrick Hendry, Margaret Sheridan as Nikki, Robert Cornthwaite as Dr. Arthur Carrington, Douglas Spencer as newspaperman Scotty, James Young as Lt. Eddie Dykes, Dewey Martin as Crew Chief Bob, Eduard Franz as Dr. Stern and James Arness as The Thing.

The romantic repartee between Kenneth Tobey as Captain Pat Hendry and Margaret Sheridan (One Minute to Zero 1952, I, the Jury 1953, The Diamond Wizard 1954) as Nikki is not consequential to the story, though it’s a pleasant distraction from the horror that is afoot, and Sheridan’s character is certainly no shrinking violet in the midst of all the carnage she rates as an anti-damsel…

The Thing From Another World Tobey and Love interest flirt

Cinematography by Russell Harlan (Red River 1948, Rio Bravo 1959, Witness for the Prosecution 1957 and To Kill a Mockingbird 1962)

Russell Harlan’s cinematography and camera work is splendid with his use of film noir angles, back lighting and the claustrophobic framing, as the narrative is set at an isolated and alienating environment by the cold weather conditions that keep the cast in a vast open space and yet appear to be bound and boxed in… in a closed environment.

The Thing from Another World night time outside

The film pulses throughout with an incredibly evocative musical score by Dimitri Tiomkin. 

Art direction by a great who worked with directors like Jacques Tourneur and Ida LupinoAlbert S. D’Agostino (Cat People 1942, Notorious 1946, Out of the Past 1947, and The Hitch-Hiker 1953) and John Hughes who worked on The Petrified Forest 1936, Sergeant York 1941, and The Treasure of the Sierra Madre 1948.

And to show Lee Greenway’s versatile make-up style he worked on The Andy Griffith Show from 1960-1968!

The Thing From Another World boasts the memorable last line that journalist Scotty speaks to all of us and inspiring Bill Warren’s terrific book covering the Sci-Fi genre of the 1950s and a documentary title, “Keep Watching the Skies!”

The Thing- Keep watching the skies-Scotty

Ned “Scotty” Scott: “All right, fellas, here’s your story: North Pole, November Third, Ned Scott reporting. One of the world’s greatest battles was fought and won today by the human race. Here at the top of the world a handful of American soldiers and civilians met the first invasion from another planet. A man by the name of Noah once saved our world with an ark of wood. Here at the North Pole, a few men performed a similar service with an arc of electricity. The flying saucer which landed here and its pilot have been destroyed, but not without causalities among our own meager forces. I would like to bring to the microphone some of the men responsible for our success… but as Senior Air force officer Captain Hendry is attending to demands over and above the call of duty… Doctor Carrington, the leader of the scientific expedition, is recovering from wounds received in the battle.”

Eddie: [Softly] “Good for you, Scotty.”

Ned “Scotty” Scott: “And now before giving you the details of the battle, I bring you a warning: Everyone of you listening to my voice, tell the world, tell this to everybody wherever they are. Watch the skies. Everywhere. Keep looking. Keep watching the skies.”

Director Christian Nyby worked for several years as an editor for Howard Hawks. Nyby wanted the directing credit and perhaps as Bill Warren suggests, the brilliant Hawks who’s so highly regarded it’s been distinguished as an art form referred to as Hawksian– whose style has a razor sharp wit, some noirish darkened edges and a raw and vivid ultra-realism about it. The film has so much witty dialogue mostly delivered by Scotty the reporter who’s got a million ways to kibitz even in the face of danger!

The Thing from Another World playing cards

Ned “Scotty” Scott: Dr. Carrington, you’re a man who won the Nobel Prize. You’ve received every kind of international kudos a scientist can attain. If you were for sale I could get a million bucks for you from any foreign government. I’m not, therefore, gonna stick my neck out and say you’re stuffed absolutely clean full of wild blueberry muffins, but I promise my readers are gonna think so.

The Thing Carrington tries to reason with it

Perhaps he was worried that by doing a monster movie would effect future work in Hollywood. —In an interview by Mark Frank with actor Kenneth Tobey when asked who really directed the picture, he answered, “Howard Hawks… Technically, of course, Chris Nyby directed it and is given screen credit for it… He was new at directing and Mr. Hawks maintained kind of oversee-age on the picture.”
After The Thing From Another World most of his work was on television, other than Hell on Devil’s Island (1957) and Young Fury 1965.

Hawks best known for his sensation films like Scarface 1932  Brining Up Baby (1938) His Girl Friday (1940)To Have and Have Not (1944) and The Big Sleep 1946 and Red River (1959)

In so many ways, The Thing from Another World really draw upon horror elements and raised the bar of chill producing images blending Hawks experience with film noir and a sensibility that allowed a science fiction narrative to be dictated by tension and a thoughtful eye toward evoking innate fear and panic in the audience.

Howard Hawks bought the rights to the story —that story the film is based on by writer/editor of Astounding Science Fiction- John W. Campbell’s story Who Goes There? which appeared in the August 1938 issue of Astounding Science Fiction.

Some critics were very well-critical of Hawks and Lederer betraying the source material, because they took the shape-shifting monster from the original story and turned it into an identifiable alien figure, in addition they were miffed at the anti-science sentiment of the film. Not just an us against them picture but a military vs. science as well.

The Thing science vs military
Dr. Arthur Carrington: You’re doing more than breaking army orders. You’re robbing science of the greatest secrets that ever come to it.

Hendry: You’d better go back, Doctor.

Dr. Arthur Carrington: Knowledge is more important than life, Captain. We’ve only one excuse for existing – to think, to find out, to learn.

Ned “Scotty” Scott: What can we learn from that thing except a quicker way to die?

Dr. Arthur Carrington: It doesn’t matter what happens to us. Nothing counts except for our thinking. We thought our way into nature. We split the atom.

Lt.Eddie Dykes: Yes, and that sure made the world happy, didn’t it?

The THing 1951 carrington and bad science

From Phil Hardy’s Overlook Encyclopedia of Science Fiction films which cited the oft quote line about the ‘intellectual carrot’“exemplifying Hawks/Nyby’s crude concept of science and the film was blamed by many for initiating the monster cycle of Science Fiction films which rapidly supplanted the documentary/realist approach of Destination Moon 1950 which was generally admired by the Science Fiction fraternity… this argument is misplaced -Spencer is, after all, a journalist whose comments, notably the closing injunction to “Watch the Skies’ which has passed into legend, are clearly indicted by Howard Hawks as being clichés, quick and crude descriptions of the situation.”

Much like Campbell’s story the plot follows a group of changing the group of Antarctic explorers to a military base they discover a ship that has been buried in ice caps taken back in a block of ice that accidentally thaws out and frees a hostile alien with a thirst for blood.

The Thing block of ice

Lt. Ken McPherson: What if he can read our minds?

Eddie: He’ll be real mad when he gets to me.

In Campbell’s story, The Thing had the powers of mental telepathy, but it’s most imposing power was it’s ability to re-configure itself into any shape of the object it devours. This created the frightening mechanism of not being able to trust that the person next to you wasn’t the alien. They figure out that since the alien’s blood is a living entity unto itself, it could be drawn from the living host from a needle and expose which one was the imposter. John Carpenter re-envisioned a more loyal adaptation of the story in his 1982 remake.

The screenplay was written by the prolific Charles Lederer who gave us The Front Page 1931, Kiss of Death 1947 and Mutiny on the Bounty 1962.

The decision for Lederer and Hawks to keep the alien as a non shape-shifting creature, is probably a good choice for the 1950s as it was a time when the enemy could easily be identified, though films like Invasion of The Body Snatchers pushed that envelope even farther for that very reason, we couldn’t tell who the monsters were, the foaming sudsy pods were frightening enough, but once morphed into your neighbor or loved one, the concept of loss of identity, trust and paranoia became the overriding theme that jolted you out of your seat.
In The Thing from Another World– James Arness was an easy monster to see and fear, though the rumor that kids who hadn’t seen the film during it’s release were told it was like a monstrous super-human carrot… Well they were part right in theory anyway…

So the story, pilot Captain Patrick Hendry (Kenneth Tobey) flies a group of scientists who are stationed in the Arctic to investigate a spot where a UFO has allegedly crashed landed.

The Thing -Hendry flying to the Arctic

What they’ll soon discover is not the beneficent alien that Klaatu from The Day the Earth Stood Still 1950 is, but a virtual killing, eating, self-procreating machine who wreaks havoc at the Arctic base camp.

Dr. Carrington  “A few minutes from now we may have the key to the stars! A million years of history are waiting for us in that ice!”

The Thing crew out on ice close up 2

They discover that it has crashed below the surface of the ice and is remarkable in that it’s shaped like a round saucer. The iconic scene —Dimitri Tiomkin’s expressive score using electronic music and the theremin builds then stops abruptly as, the crew stretch out around the circular shape holding hands and getting excited as newspaperman Scotty (Douglas Spencer) the reporter exclaims, “Holy Cats -Hey it’s almost…”  Hendry-“Yeah it’s almost a perfect…” Scotty –“It is, it’s round… we finally got one” “we found a flying saucer!”

The Thing looking through the ice

The Thing From Another World The Camp starts to form a circle closer up

The Thing forms a circle 2

The scene is so memorable, it’s probably one of the most recognized images of science fiction film culture of any decade past or present. They use thermite to melt the ice, but they inadvertently blow up the ship instead. Still remaining in a block of ice though is it’s mysterious pilot, so they manage to take it back to the base with them.

A very shaky soldier on guard duty who is too creeped out about the size and look of the ‘Thing’ feeling like the inhabitant inside is actually watching him, so naturally the dope throws an electric blanket over the block of ice thus thawing out the fiend and allowing it to escape, first attacking him, and escaping out into the darkness of the icy cold snow. I hate this next scene, but the Thing fights off the sled dogs and brutally kills them, so animal lovers, it’s a good time to pause the film and refill the popcorn bowl.

The Thing -ice melts yikes

When the crew go to investigate they find that one of the dogs has actually ripped one of the alien’s arms off, which the scientist led by Dr Carrington (Robert Cornthwaite) take back to the base to analyze.

The THing-the arm ripped off

The thing-in the lab

Interesting, through-out the film, we see the fine example of the friction between the good (military) and the bad (science) who keep trying to impede the safety of the the people on the base for the sake of discovering new life forms, without the regard to the danger to those around them as well as the world at large. Carrington is made to appear as if he might be Russian, which only adds to the natural mistrust of the character due to the growing paranoia during the Cold War 50s. I’ve read many references to this, in several essays on the film. And as Bill Warren points out – it’s not an accident that the location of the plot is situated where Russia is only miles away from the Arctic base.

“Any of our ships missing?…no

“Canadians, Russians?–They could be they’re all over the pole like flies.”

Once Carrington examines the severed alien arm, he observes that it is actually plant based, carries seeds pods under it’s skin, in the palms of it’s giant clawed hands, and that it (insert- a shiver) ingests blood which is a vampiristic aspect that rummages around in the Gothic horror genre and hey it is also –asexual.

Dr. Arthur Carrington: [about the sexuality of carrots and aliens respectively] “Its development was not handicapped by emotional or sexual factors.”

The Thing it's a vegetable that drinks blood

“It sounds like your describing some form of super carrot.”

“that’s nearly right Mr. Scott.”

“This carrot as you call it has constructed an aircraft capable of flying some millions of miles through space propelled by a force that’s yet unknown to us.”

Scotty says “An intellectual carrot… the mind boggles.”

In yet another wonderfully jarring scene Capt. Hendry and a few of his crew slowing approach the greenhouse, expecting to find the Thing inside. Just as Hendry is talking to his men, he opens the door and right behind it, is lurking the menacing hulk ready to strike grabbing Hendry’s arm as he slams the door shut in shock!.

The Thing he's at the door

The THing- at the door

The Thing he's at the door claw is stuck
Hendry: Did you get your picture?

Ned “Scotty” Scott: No, you were in the way and the door wasn’t open long enough.

Hendry: You want us to open it again?

Ned “Scotty” Scott: NO!

The Thing Scotty say No!

It has returned not only to once again attack the base, but he’s trying to sew it’s seeds in their greenhouse. It kills two soldiers, and drains their blood and bleeds them out over the soil in order to cultivate it’s seedlings. At the same time Dr. Carrington is also trying to grow seedlings from the arm of that Thing.

Of course Hendry being a hero with the ‘good’ military destroy the little growing aliens in the greenhouse and realize that Carrington is going rogue with his lust for scientific knowledge while his men are being slaughtered. It is Carrington’s fault that the men got killed and he shows no remorse about this in his search for the hidden secrets of the Thing might reveal to science.

The Thing- setting up the ramp with coils

Carrington puts it like this, “Knowledge is more important than life.”

There is also a moral conflict between Hendry and Scotty as Hendry doesn’t want the story be released over the military radio as he is working for the government and not the whole world, Scotty the newspaper man sees it as the responsibility of the press to tell the world the story, as the truth belongs to the people.

The Thing comes back once more and attacks the men once more, this time they set him ablaze in a scene of fantastic pyrotechnics! While completely engulfed in flames he crashes through the window and escapes once more into the snowy darkness.

The Thing From Another World -first pyrotecnics body fire suit on film The Thing

Though the female heroine is resourceful, self-possessed and as equally brave as the men, it is Nikki (Margaret Sheridan) who suggests that they could cook it like a vegetable. That’s not a bad idea actually, so Hendry and his men lay a trap rigged with electricity enough to sizzle the Thing at it’s very roots. Once again Dr. Carrington interferes trying to reason with the alien telling him that he’s more superior than humans —

Ned “Scotty” Scott: Here’s the sixty-four dollar question – what do you do with a vegetable?

Nikki: Boil it.

Ned “Scotty” Scott: What did you say?

Nikki: Boil it… bake it… stew it… fry it?

The Thing electricity 2

The THing electric 4

The THing from Another World zapped

The Thing they watch the arcing

The Thing electric 6

“Yes, the neat and unconfused reproductive technique of vegetation. No pain no pleasure as we know it… No emotion… No Heart. Our superior in every way. Gentlemen, do you realize what we’ve found? A being from another world, as different from us as one pole from the other. If we can only communicate with it, we could learn secrets that have hidden from man since the beginning.”

THe THing 2

Scotty says- ‘What could we learn from that thing except a quicker way to die”

Another chilling revelation that Carrington brings to light as he coldly assess that the Thing, only sees us as important for his ‘nourishment’ As writer scholar Carlos Clarens states. The Thing From Another World suggests that ‘superior science… will bleed us to death.”

As writer Mark Jancovich wisely instructs us, Dr. Carrington, finds the Thing as an “Ideal of the system of scientific-technical rationality” not just as a single society that is ordered by control and rational thought, it also drives out the impulse for sexual desire, which the scientist Carrington sees as the ultimate irrational problem, though it is the way in which humans express their emotions and feelings. Burn out those drives and we are just reproduction machines.

This is the very concept that scares us at our subconscious level –about being devoured, about being taken over. It is at the core of the Invasion Anxiety trope.

And that because of this intelligence they must share a commonality with the hulking clawed blood drinking carrot. As the Thing begins to walk on the electrified trap they have set for him along the walkway he is aggressively holding a large two by four, as he stops listens for a few moments then swats Carrington like a fly. So much for science and reasoning with a hostile carrot from outer space. Like the Alien (1979) of Ridley Scott’s nightmare, the only goal of the thing is— to survive and procreate. I agree with Ridley Scott who said it was an alien sure, but although it was a ‘vegetable’ it was an indestructible killing machine.

thing_from_another_world_ready to fight

The Thing he smacks the scientist down 5

Carrington runs up to the Thing, “Look I’m your friend I have no weapons. You’re wiser than I you must  understand what I’m trying to tell you. Don’t go any farther, They’ll kill you. They think you mean to harm us all. But I want to know you, To help you. Believe that! You’re wiser than anything on earth. Use that intelligence. Look at me and try to know what I’m telling you. I”m not your enemy I’m a scientist. I’M A SCIENTIST  –he begs he screams those words as the Thing raises his big monstrous arms and swats him like a fly and tossed aside like a rag doll.

In Biskind’s- ‘Seeing is believing’  “Despite the fact that it is part of the natural world, more vegetable than mineral, the Thing is a robot”  Mark Jancovich -Rational Fears- Horror films of the 1950s—“If the invaders are presented as natural, they are carefully distinguished from association with ‘human nature’. They are vegetables, insects or reptiles. They are cold-blooded beings which lack what are generally understood to be human feelings or thought processes. They resist anthropomorphism, and are usually presented as little more than biological machines….”

The Thing on ice

Jancovich wagers that the presence of Dr. Carrington actually represents science as the more authoritative figure in the film and not the military. Even the military operatives at the base camp are kept in the dark about what Carrington’s purpose is there at the Arctic camp. Hendry is told by his superiors  to defer to Carrington.

In fact they military personnel must disobey their orders so they can defend themselves and destroy the Thing.

The sentiment of bad science and anti-intellectualism is only emphasized at the end of the film originally the thing kills Carrington and Scotty remake “Both monsters are dead.” but the final print only shows the scientist as being misguided by his principals and not so much a dangerous, evil presence. Also the military doesn’t necessarily come out of this as complete heroes, as the radio black out keeps the base cut off from communication, once Hendry and his men have destroyed the thing, in the end he gets the message from headquarters to keep the thing alive at all costs.

the thing shadow play

One of the best and most jolting scenes is after Kenneth Tobey’s character Hendry opens the door and the imposing, bald James Arness as The Thing is waiting there… then swings his clawed hand at him, then tries to push its way through is terrifying. Another stunning moment in the film is when the crew throws the kerosene on the Thing and lights him on fire as he jumps out the window in dazzling pyrotechnical flames, all back lit like a daring and dangerous noir thriller. I would say that The Thing from Another World is absolutely shares it’s essence with the shadows and sensibilities of a great noir classic. Though it’s considered one of the great science fiction pictures of all time, it is a hybrid horror & film noir piece. Val Lewton’s art house horror works for RKO were very noir in visual story, theme and the tropes, metaphors and landscapes he used to tell those stories. Alienation, the Outsider narratives. The anti-hero being pursued– it all fits the parameters of noir…—

They lit the scene with a human torch, and a full body burn had not been done before…-

The Thing fire 3

Ned “Scotty” Scott: “You sure you know how to use that thing?”

Lt. Ken McPherson: “I saw Gary Cooper in “Sergeant York.””

The Thing fire 5

The Thing fire 8

The Thing fire 10

The Thing -they watch as the creature jumps thru window

In The Thing from Another World, it’s the isolated military guys who are resourceful as a team, not the scientists who wind up protecting the world from this menace. They are the heroes. It is the scientists who not only interfere because of their hubris and curiosity they jeopardize the rest of the crew at the base. They do this by trying to protect the alien for the purpose of studying the creature, gaining knowledge and a focus on personal empirical prowess. They are lured by this hubris to reveal the unknown secrets of the universe. By feeding the smaller alien seedlings, and trying to protect the alien, Dr. Carrington has compromised everyone’s safety at the base, perhaps even the future safety of the world as if allowed to reproduce, the Thing could proliferate it’s massive killing appetites beyond the Arctic.

Dr. Arthur Carrington: “There are no enemies in science, only phenomena to be studied.”

So as the 1950s science fiction films began to unfold the stories of mans conquest of space became more rare on screen and instead of us visiting other planets the aliens began to come to us!

The Thing from Another World (1951) still remains one of THE most influential science fiction/horror films –burned and I mean cooked down deep into our brains like an alien super-carrot on an electrified ramp in the Antarctic of our minds waiting to thaw out when ever we’re ready to re-experience that feeling of dread!

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“What does it mean that we’re going to have visitors from another worlds other planets Do we have to return the call or…” “I don’t know yesterday I would say that was crazy” -Kenneth Tobey as Capt. Hendry

Ned “Scotty” Scott:So few people can boast that they’ve lost a flying saucer and a man from Mars -all in the same day! Wonder what they’d have done to Columbus if he’d discovered America, and then mislaid it.”

The Thing 3

The Thing Arness

James Arness The Thing

Unknown World

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Directed by Terry O. Morse he worked primarily as a film editor (Old Acquaintance 1943, The Moonlighter 1953, Curucu, Beast of the Amazon 1956, Godzilla, King of the Monsters! 1956, The Space Children 1958, Blue Hawaii 1961, The List of Adrian Messenger 1963, Robinson Crusoe on Mars 1964, Panic in the City 1968 and The Girl Who Knew Too Much 1969) 

unknown world 1951 lobby card

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Unknown World was filmed in Carlsbad Caverns.

Unknown_World_(1951)

Starring Bruce Kellogg as Wright Thompson , Otto Waldis as Dr. Max A. Bauer, Jim Bannon, Tom Handley as Dr. James Paxton, Dick Cogan as Dr. George Coleman, George Baxter, Marylin Nash as Joan Lindsey, and Jim Bannon as Andy.

Jack Rabin and Irving Block worked on Rocketship X-M (1950) got together and worked again a on a few low budget and outrageous films, like Cat-Women of the Moon (1953) Here they work on an interesting idea that’s less sensationalist than Cat-Women! The film was written by Millard Kaufman who also wrote Gun Crazy 1950, Take the High Ground 1953,Bad Day at Black Rock (1955), for which he was nominated for an Academy Award. He also wrote Raintree Country (1957)

The film opens with a newsreel reporting on Dr. Jeremiah Morley (uncredited Victor Killian) who is on a mission to solve the problems of nuclear devastation along with other scientists Dr. Max A. Bauer, (Otto Waldis) Dr. James Paxton (Tom Handley) Dr. George Coleman (Dick Cogan) Joan Lindsey (Marylin Nash) all form the society to save the world from the impending doom.

unknown world looking out of the cyclotram

the cyclotram

Morley wants to build a machine called a Cyclotram which can drill to the center of the earth and drive into deep caverns that would provide safe bunkers in the event that the surface of the earth is contaminated with radio-active fall-out. The government won’t finance the project so Wright Thompson (Bruce Kellogg) the wealthy son of a publish promises to help fund Morley’s work on the condition that he gets to come along on the journey.

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They take the Cyclotram to Mt. Neleh in the Aleutian Islands, and begin to drill, until they find a giant phosphorescent cavern, with a lake , clouds and good conditions. Unfortunately there is no life that can sustain itself there as they are all sterile. Joan says, “we can’t bury ourselves in the Earth and expect to live.”

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A few members die along the way from poisonous gas, there is a terrible storm, a volcanic eruption that causes the waters to rise and Morely stays behind and drowns while Joan and Wright head back to the Cyclotram. At first the machine sinks to the bottom of the ocean, but rises and delivers the pair to an tropical Island inhabited by people and thriving animals and birds.

 Dr. James Paxton: Nature doesn’t influence Man! Man influences Nature! One man, one strong man can change Nature!

Wright Thompson: Oh, you’re wrong, Dr. Paxton. It isn’t one man, it’s many men working together.

[Looking at Dr. Joan Lindsey]

Wright Thompson: Right, teacher?

Dr. James Paxton: Men together are no more than sheep! One man standing alone leads the way, and the sheep follow!

When Worlds Collide

when worlds collide

Directed by Rudolph Maté (The Dark Past 1948, D.O.A. & Union Station 1950, Forbidden 1953, The Violent Men 1954, Produced by George Pal.

He was the cinematographer on The Passion of Joan of Arc 1928, Dante’s Inferno 1935, Dodsworth 1936, Stella Dallas 1937, To Be or Not To Be 1942, Gilda 1946,The Lady from Shanghai 1947.

The novel When Worlds Collide was written by Philip Wylie and Edwin Balmer and it was serialized in Blue Book in 1932. With a screenplay by Sydney Boehm. (High Wall 1947, Side Street 1949, Union Station 1950, The Big Heat 1953, Shock Treatment 1964, Sylvia 1965)

Stars Richard Derr, Barbara Rush, John Hoyt, Peter Hansen, Larry Keating, Rachel Ames, Stephen Chase, Frank Cady, and Hayden Rorke.

When Worlds Collide 2

When Worlds Collide 1

Narrator: [spoken over a shot of outer space] Needles in a heavenly haystack. There are more stars in the heavens than there are human beings on Earth. Through telescopes men of science constantly search the infinitesimal corners of our solar system seeking new discoveries, hoping to better understand the laws of the Universe. Observatories dedicated to the study of astronomy are set in high and remote places, but there is none more remote than Mt. Kenna Observatory in this part of South Africa.

Hayden Rorke plays Dr. Emery Bronson a South African astronomer who discovers a horrible inevitable fate that the Earth is doomed to destruction. He sends his photographic evidence to New York with pilot Dave Randell ( Richard Derr), and gives them to Dr. Cole Hendron (Larry Keating) who concurs that there are two wanderings planet headed into our solar system and that one of them is on a collision course with our planet. The United Nations doesn’t co-operate and refuses to give the scientists any support in building a rocket that will be able take off and rescue a handful of survivors picked from a lottery, from the doomed planet. Dr. Hendron also believes that once the one planet smashes into the earth, the other body might be able to sustain whatever survivors can manage to migrate to it, as it’s orbit is almost similar to our own.

John Hoyt plays a unsympathetic millionaire Sidney Stanton who is bound to his wheelchair and very willing to provide the funding for the huge space craft that will take off from the Earth with the provision of course that he has a prime seat on the craft. Dave Randell has fallen in love with Dr. Hendron’s daughter Joyce (Barbara Rush) who remains behind to help with the construction of the spacecraft.

John Hoyt is in typical style as the cantankerous unlikable and self-interested financier who is doomed to suffer being left behind because of his archetypal superiority complex, and corrupted nasty personality.

As predicted one of the planets comes near the Earth, and passes by it, causing catastrophic disasters like floods and earthquakes. Right before the second planet Bellus approaches the spacecraft is launched. Dr. Hendron forces the self-centered Stanton to stay behind and die, so that Dave and Joyce can go aboard the spacecraft which is very short on fuel. Now aboard, the survivors look upon the Earth as it is finally destroyed by the planet Bellus. The film has a very nihilistic vision that should only be watched if you’re not worried about global warming or catastrophic disasters. The ship lands on the new planet which is able to support them with an atmosphere rich in oxygen. And a new day is dawning.

Though the scene with Manhattan becoming engulfed by tidal waves and flood destroying sky scrapers and drowning the population of New York City causes me great anxiety, it only lasts a few seconds, so I close my eyes.

Dr. Emery Bronson: If our calculations prove to be correct, this will be the most frightening discovery of all time.

Sydney Stanton: Put me on board.

Dr. Cole Hendron, Astronomer at Cosmos Observatory: [the boarding ramp fence comes under attack] You were right, Stanton. You’re a better judge of character than I am.

Sydney Stanton: Put me on board!

Dr. Cole Hendron, Astronomer at Cosmos Observatory: No, Stanton.

[Pushes him away from the ramp]

Sydney Stanton: What are you doing?

Dr. Cole Hendron, Astronomer at Cosmos Observatory: [Uncovers and pulls a secret lever that closes the ark’s hatch] *We’re* the extra fuel that they need. The new world doesn’t belong to us; it belongs to the young.

 

When Worlds collide survivors

The Whip Hand

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Directed and produced by William Cameron Menzies (art direction–The Mark of Cain 1917, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde 1920, The Thief of Bagdad 1924, The Garden of Eden 1928, Things to Come 1936, Rebecca 1940–director un-credited Duel in the Sun 1946, Deadline at Dawn 1946, Invaders from Mars 1953, The Maze 1953)

Stars Otto Waldis as Dr. Wilhelm Bucholtz , Carla Balenda as Janet Keller, Elliot Reid as Matt Corbin, Edgar Barrier as Dr. Edward Keller, Raymond Burr as Dr. Loomis, Olive Carey as Mabel Turner and the always mercurial Lurene Tuttle as Molly Loomis.

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the whip hand raymond burr menacing

The Whip Hand sci fi

The Whip Hand has a very interesting background story as it was shot originally a year before then reconstructed after the use of Adolf Hitler’s character was found to be a bad idea by then RKO head Howard Hughes. Hitler hiding out in Winnoaga waiting to conquer the world, becomes a secret group of communists with the same nefarious plan. The whole picture became a hybrid of suspense, spy thriller, science fiction horror dealing with germ warfare. After portions of the film were re-shot and reconfigured, it was no longer quite the low budget film that it had started out as.

From Wheeler Winston Dixon’s Film Noir and the Cinema of Paranoia Dixon talks about how the first shot was canned at the last minute costing hundreds of thousands of dollars in retakes to scrap the Nazi angle- “In William Cameron Menzie’s equally bizarre The Whip Hand (1951), another Howard Hughes/RKO effort, ex-Nazi and now Communist conspirators plan to spike the nation’s water supply with a deadly chemical that will decimate the country’s population, leaving the country open to a sweeping Soviet invasion. The Whip Hand’s original scenario, in fact, was even more outré; in the first draft of the screenplay, Hitler himself (as played by Bobby Watson) has somehow escaped death in his Berlin bunker at the end of World War II.”

From reading Bill Warren’s Keep Watching the Skies! I learned that the film was originally shot in 1950 by RKO under the name The Man He Found. written by Stanley Rubin and directed by Menzies. It involved a reporter Matt Corbin (Elliot Reid) who was hunting down a mystery in a small fishing village in Winnoaga, Minnesota where all the fish have died. Most of the land has been purchased by a stranger Dr. Loomis (Raymond Burr). Matt falls in love with Janet Keller, Dr. Edward Keller’s sister.

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Menzies loved the lurid and shocking idea of a German biologist using the small American town for his clandestine experiments. The time period in America was rife with this kind of paranoia and fear and mistrust of double agents, secret Soviet spies and scientists who would infiltrate this country and do harm.

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the-whip-hand_germ warfare

A news headline hints at the underlying mystery and menace behind the story, “Famed Nazi authority on germ warfare reported swallowed up by Iron Curtain.”

Dr. Wilhelm Bucholtz and his monstrous laboratory is the boogeyman of The Whip Hand.

In his lab equip with all the necessary horror art piece torture room, experimental animals in cages, beakers, test tubes and apparatus that Strickfaden might be tickled by, Bucholtz turns to his side kick and smugly exhalts,  “The receptacle to be used in our master plan has been perfected. Hermetically sealed in this little plastic box is sufficient botulin to destroy the entire population of Chicago-if strategically introduced into that city’s milk supply on any given day. We will use the same type of container for distribution of our other germ cultures-influenza, parrot fever, Q-fever, tularemia, and bubonic plague.”

The Whip Hand torture

Matt Corbin asks what happened to the fish and Dr. Keller tells him, “Some virus infected the lake water.”

It’s almost implied that the fish were poisoned to scare off the people of the town, in order for Loomis to move in and buy things cheap. Then install either Hitler or the communists to come in and take over. As mentioned by a storekeeper who was eventually murdered he says, “Loomis and that bunch moved in and bought things cheap” after the fish died.

the-whip-hand_olive-carey

The-Whip-Hand

The film opens with a wave of propaganda, a montage of Soviet activity in order to set the stage and instill the dread we felt about communism. “Like clockwork every May Day, the Iron Curtain is lifted just long enough to impress upon the rest of the world that Communism is on the march! Reminiscent of other dictator-led nations-gone but not forgotten who wanted this display of military might stands as a symbolic warning of things to come. Behind the heavily guarded walls of the Kremlin are the men who are trying to shape the destiny of the world-men who are fully aware there is only one nation powerful enough to thwart their plans.”

thewhiphand_1951_

The-Whip-Hand-1951

“Our master plan embraces the entire United States. Agents will strike simultansously in the most heavily populated areas. New York-Boston -Washington. Cities will be paralyzed and rendered powerless within forty eight hours. New Orleans -Pittsburgh -Detroit. Pestilence and disease will strike suddenly and without warning in Los Angelels -San Francisco -Portland and Seattle. Even now American Communists, working under the supervision of Dr. Wilhelm Bucholtz are ready and waiting for final orders in Winnoega.”

The new central villain who had replaced Hitler is Dr. Wilheim Bucholtz (Otto Waldis) , and ex-nazi now working for the communists. The scenes where reporter Corbin crawls up the hill and watches over at the lodge, had no dialogue so the voice-over could be changed easily. “A dozen men and women are stretched out on cots. Another dozen are seen in wheel-chairs and crutches. White-coated male attendants move about watching over them.”

[last lines]

Dr. Wilhelm Bucholtz: When I turn this handle the force of the explosion will scatter germs for hundreds of miles. The diseases will spread like wildfire from one end of the country to the other, infecting, crippling, paralysing! Communism will rule the world!

PLEASE STAY TUNED FOR!

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3 thoughts on “🚀 “Keep watching the skies!” Science Fiction cinema of the 1950s- The year is 1951- Part 2

  1. Woo hoo! More great 1950s sci-fi! I hope to eventually see all of these, but I’m going to make Alex Guiness and The Man in the White Suit a priority.

    I liked the insights re: heroes of 1950s sci-fi, and how a scientist couldn’t be funny AND smart, or a human AND a genius. Very true. I’m really going to concentrate on that the next time I’m on a 1950s sci-fi binge. :)

    Like

    1. Yay! we love a Woo Hoo! This has been a really inspiring project inspired the fantastic Blogathon you, Fritzi and Aurora hosted. As I began working on it, I realized I’d never complete a decade by the time the event rolled around. There’s too many fun & rich things to write about — I hope you get to sample some of the better films (Guiness is always sublime!) and some of those guilty pleasures too. They are sooo worth a rainy Sunday morning! Cheers Joey PS: Still have to read posts from the Classic Movie History Project 2016… talk about Woo Hoo!

      Liked by 1 person

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