My Favourite Movies: The Thing from Another World
This classic 1951 movie is a delight to watch. It tells the story of a flying saucer – literally circular – that crashes in the Arctic near an American scientific base. When a team fly out to inspect the crash they accidently destroy the ship but manage to bring back a lone survivor frozen in the ice. When the alien is accidently thawed out it soon becomes clear that it did not come to Earth to engage in philosophical conversation. It quickly become obvious that it’s going to be a fight for survival between the plant-like alien and the warm blooded humans whom it regards as simple nourishment. As the scientists continue to investigate the creature it becomes apparent that it can reproduce by seeding any suitable ground. With that in mind the airmen at the base decide to kill it – if they can – to save mankind from an invasion from the stars.
It’s difficult to imagine after the subsequent 50 years of movie making just how awesome this movie must have been in 1951. Its semi-documentary style puts you right in the middle of the action. The characters are very realistic – especially the flight team – as they banter (I’m guessing a good deal of adlibbing was going on here) and talk across each other throughout the entire movie. It’s fascinating to watch. Either the script writer was particularly adept or the actors cooked up the dialogue between them. It just seemed real. Another delight to watch is the relationship between the air force captain Hendry (played by Kenneth Toby) as his new girlfriend Nikki (played by Margaret Sheridan). You really don’t hear/see that kind of high speed intelligent dialogue any more. Both parties were obviously having a lot of fun on screen and it really showed – despite the fact that they were apparently fighting for their lives at the time. The creature – played by James Arness of all people – was neither here nor there being merely big and menacing. The action was sporadic but suitably claustrophobic with some serious ‘jump’ moments that no doubt had dates painfully gripping their boyfriend’s arms. Taken in context and the time it was released this is a cracking little film that certainly deepened my love of the genre both in film and book format. Highly recommended as both classic SF and 1950’s nostalgia.