This Island Earth (1955)

Hello, everybody, it’s Pam again. Today Nate and I are going to review something we hope might be a little better than Million Monkey Theater’s usual fare. It’s This Island Earth, and it’s got some almost-famous actors in it. Jeff Morrow, who has top billing, was a prolific actor who played in a number of movies, although generally in secondary roles. Oh, and Russell Johnson is in this movie! He did a lot more than the Professor, you know. And finally, the female lead, Faith Domergue, who unfortunately kicks the movie down a notch. She was a brunette actress who looked something like Ava Gardner and something like Hedy Lamarr but didn’t have that little extra spark that made them both so memorable. She’s gorgeous, no doubt about that, but she just doesn’t stand out. She started dating Howard Hughes when she was 15 (!), and he tried grooming her for stardom. Despite this (or maybe because of this) she never became a star, and by the time this movie was made in 1955, Howard Hughes was long gone and she had become almost the female equivalent of John Agar as far as the sort of movies she acted in. We’ll see how good this one is.

She did like the hats, that girl.

The movie opens in Washington D.C., and almost immediately we meet the main character, Dr. Cal Meacham, played by Rex Reason. Like Faith Domergue, he’s good-looking, but you probably won’t remember what he looks like 15 minutes after the movie is over. The “Doctor” suggests he’s a scientist, which we’ll find out shortly he is. He’s at an airport, probably National (Dulles didn’t exist in 1955), surrounded by several reporters and pulling a flight suit on over his suit and tie. The talk between him and the reporters tells us he’s a specialist in electronics who’s trying to couple electronics with atomic energy to get it to the “pushbutton age.” He clarifies this to say that he’s working on the reconversion of common elements into nuclear energy sources. I’m not at all sure what he means here, and I have a degree in nuclear engineering. It may have something to do with making nuclear reactors easier to operate, or it might just the usual movie made-up science (Bingo!).

Dreamy Cal.

Anyway, whatever it is must be important. The reason Cal’s putting on a flight suit is because he’s getting ready to fly that jet fighter he’s standing next to, a jet it appears the Army has lent to him free of charge, or maybe just given him outright. I knew I should have gotten a Ph.D. I hope the Army’s paying for the jet fuel, too, because those planes cost a fortune to fly. I don’t know which plane this is (maybe Nate can help), and I don’t know how much jet fuel cost in 1955, but today we’re talking $20,000 per hour and up to fly one.

Oh, look, it’s my old friend T-33A-1-LO Shooting Star 52-9546.

I don’t know why a scientist needs to get places so fast, but since it seems Cal’s research is being conducted in Los Angeles, that jet must come in handy. He’s coming in for a landing, when it appears that the Army might have palmed off a lemon on him. He suddenly finds that the joystick isn’t working and he can’t control the plane. He’s too low to bail out safely, what’s he going to do? Fear not, a green light and a whistling sound step in. Yes, this is exactly what happens. The plane is illuminated in green as an unseen force lowers the landing gear and brings the plane to a safe landing. Cal and a colleague of his on the ground who saw the whole thing are remarkably calm and don’t even bother to look the plane over to see if they can tell what caused it. Bad scientists!

That could use some more optical work.

But it’s possible their research is of such importance they can’t waste their time on remote-controlled airplanes. Possibly dismissing it as some new automatic pilot the Army forgot to tell him about, Cal and his buddy hurry off to Cal’s lab. There they observe as a metal bar is lowered on to a metal object, the nature of which I can’t even venture a guess, it looks like something yanked out of a car engine. They mention they’re observing the rate of radioactive decay, so maybe they’re trying to make a piece of steel fission. Unfortunately the condenser they’re using shorts out, and – I’m not even going to talk about their research any more, it makes no sense at all. Let’s just say they’re doing something very important. And apparently they need to get places fast.

Always well-dressed in the lab.

It seems the loss of the condenser puts a stop to the experiment, but fortunately they thought to order spares. However, the ones that came aren’t the ones they ordered, but some new, completely unknown, kind that look like large glass beads. (Since from the way they use the “condenser” it seems to be actually a capacitor, I thought whoever wrote the script made a mistake. But a quick check of the Internet shows that capacitors used to be called condensers, so I guess that part’s okay.) They came from a company Cal never heard of. This provokes a little curiosity from Cal, and he’s just finding out that even a diamond drill won’t cut the beads, when he’s informed that nobody can find anything wrong with the plane. Cal and his friend are scratching their heads when a deliveryman knocks on the lab door and brings in a package. (One oddity I have to point out is that an ordinary deliveryman was not only allowed to drive into a guarded research facility, but walk around unescorted in a building where the supersecret research is done.)

Is that a cherry gumdrop?

What’s in the package? More condensers? A mysterious green light? Their paychecks? No, no, and no. It looks like a perfectly normal electronics catalogue delivered by a perfectly normal delivery man, but that’s where I’m wrong. The components listed in the catalogue are unknown to Cal and his friend, and not only that, the pages of the catalogue aren’t paper, they’re thin metal. They find a listing for a piece of equipment called an “interocitor,” which seems to be able to do anything! Literally anything, because it can lay a four-lane highway at the rate of a mile a minute. Not surprisingly, Cal wants one, and luckily for him the catalogue lists the parts needed to build one. So does he just call the company who put out the catalogue and order the parts? No, because there’s no name on the catalogue. What’s he going to do? Well, they acquired the offbeat condensers when Cal’s friend used a teletype (do they even still exist?) to order parts from their usual supplier, and they got the weird condensers instead. In what seems to me to be a childish leap of faith, they use the same teletype to order the parts for the interocitor, instead of – oh, I don’t know, at least checking with their supplier to see who could have intercepted their order.

Where’s his security badge?

However, their faith is justified. Time passes, and we view the lab again, now filled with a bunch of large wooden crates. How big is the interocitor going to be, anyway? Pretty big, since Cal says there’s 2,486 parts, and after all, if it can lay asphalt for a highway in the blink of an eye, it would have to be big. How long will it take to build, then? Did it come with an instruction sheet? No, just blueprints, but we Americans don’t need no stinking instruction sheets! In less time than it takes to tell, the two men have it all put together. (In view of the fact their research seems to be so important, I’m wondering how it is they have the time to tinker with an unknown contraption from an unknown source. But they don’t seem to have any supervision, in fact they seem to have the whole building to themselves.) It’s big, all right, but not as big as I was expecting. It’s maybe about five feet tall and seven feet long, with a large triangle on top. It doesn’t seem to have any means of propulsion, which makes me wonder how it can lay highways, but it turns out that it can talk – with an American accent, to boot.

“Wow, this script is long!”

The voice instructs them to slip a disc over a control and turn it precisely 18 degrees, which causes the triangle to display pretty pink and blue lights, which clear to show the image of a white-haired man in a suit and tie. He introduces himself as Exeter, and tells them he’s a scientist, too. He’s with a group looking to recruit other scientists, and assembling the interocitor was an aptitude test which Cal has passed. (But apparently not the friend, although he was shown doing as much work on the interocitor as Cal was. But the friend doesn’t have a Ph.D, and I guess that’s why he wasn’t invited.) Cal’s invited to join the group, and Exeter tells them that at 5:00 AM Wednesday morning, a plane will land on the airstrip at their research facility and will wait five minutes. Cal can either get on the plane then or forget about joining the group. Exeter displays his powers by first beaming rays of red light onto the catalogue and the blueprints, causing them to burst into flame. Then, as though that wasn’t enough, the interocitor itself starts shooting out sparks and flames, finally collapsing into a heap of redhot metal, somehow without setting anything else on fire. A quick check with a radiation survey meter shows that the wreckage isn’t radioactive (although it should have picked up some background radiation, so the actors must not have bothered to turn it on). And they never did get to test the wondrous abilities of the interocitor!

Exeter (Jeff Morrow).

What’s Cal going to do? Is he going to contact the head of Security at the research facility to report these mysterious occurrences, as he surely must be required to? Is he going to make some discreet checks among his colleagues to find out who, or what country, might be behind all this? Is he going to exercise good judgment and stay far, far away from these strange people? Of course not! This is a B-movie! It appears that Cal has no family or friends, as is standard in B-movies, so Cal makes his poor faithful assistant drive him out to the landing strip at 5:00 AM Wednesday morning. The plane lands right on time. It’s tastefully decorated with stripes, but there are no markings. The door opens, the steps unfold, Cal walks up them, and …what happens next, Nate?

Foggy out.

Thanks, Pam! Well, much to his surprise, Cal finds that the rickety old C-47 with the windows boarded over is empty save for a comfy Barcalounger and a miniature interocitor thingie that’s remotely controlling the pilotless plane. Against his better judgment, Cal agrees to take a ride to an unknown exotic destination to meet up with Exeter and do some amazing scienceguy stuff. And that location turns out to be a dirt airstrip in rural Georgia (really?). There, right off the plane, Cal meets an old friend of his, a pretty girl with a curly mushroom top hairdo named Doctor Ruth Adams who he had a skinny-dipping summer fling with a few years ago at a scientific conference. For some reason not really well explained, she initially denies knowing him, though you can tell she’s lying (and still smitten). Ruth is played by the aforementioned Faith Domergue, who I’ve never seen in a movie before (other than in some insert shots in an AIP feature), but I don‘t feel like I‘ve missed much. Pam is right, this girl is not so good at the acting thing, but she looks suitably cute in her tight-waisted dress and is an expert in staring wistfully up at Cal’s chiseled face whenever the scene calls for it.

Cal meets Ruth for a second time.

Ruth takes Cal back to this big old plantation estate that Exeter has converted into a multi-storey laboratory, stocked with all the latest and greatest science machinery and power tools. There are servants and butlers and a half-dozen other scientist types from around the world wandering around, all dressed in sharp suits and ties. Except for an OMGSoRacist black maid, Ruth is the only female in the building, as normally in these types of 1950s movies, when there’s a group of scientists you’ll only get a single woman to play the role of “supposed equal” and “future fawning romantic lead”.

What’s for dinner?

After an indeterminate amount of time spent fiddling with slide rules and jiggering computations and formulae, Cal meets another scientist named Steve who seems to share Cal‘s lingering uncertainty about Exeter‘s methods. He and Ruth talk with him in Cal‘s lab space, incorrectly guessing that Exeter can‘t snoop on their conversations. What Cal is curious about is that all the research being done here is about creating new forms of energy, not the peaceful application of said energy, which makes Cal uneasy about their employer’s motivations. But he still keeps working at his research, under Exeter’s careful gaze, so he can’t be that worried. A considerable amount technobabble is sprayed around in these lab scenes, some of it sounding fairly reasonable and other bits clearly scratched on carbon paper by a blind housecat (“We have to reconstinullate the shabbalaxativelogide to the 57th power!”.

Our dissenters plot their escape.

Speaking of housecats, one of the stars of this movie is Neutron the orange tabby, who is the spitting image of MMT‘s Research Intern/Town Drunk Kelby. When I pointed this out to Kelby, he was predictably offended, claiming that he is much more handsome and sleek than Neutron. He then ruined his own argument by barfing up a hairball on my laptop and sleeping with the receptionist down at the VD clinic he frequents.

Neutron, baby!

Oh, and this exists.

Anyway, while Exeter and his minions have all the scientists and all the tools they need, things are not going well with their master plan to produce massive amounts of energy at a low cost. It seems that Exeter is really more of a branch office middle manager than anything, and his bosses are not happy at all with his slow pace of progress and lack of tangible results. Worse yet, Exeter’s staff is starting to turn against him as well, displeased with his unwillingness to use their dreaded Mind Control Device to brainwash the scientists into doing their bidding. Exeter claims that such drastic means will destroy their initiative and ability to think-outside-the-box, which will only slow down their research efforts more. The Communist analogies veritably ooze from this movie at times.

Exeter better watch his back.

Matters come to head when Cal, Ruth, and Steve try and escape in a car, certain now that Exeter is up to no good. For whatever reason (never really explained), Exeter now is perfectly ok with murdering anyone who tries to escape, even though he’s consistently said all movie that these people are the key to his project and are invaluable. Steve is fried by scratch-on-the-negative lighting bolts, as is some German physicist out for a stroll, and it’s only by random luck that Cal and Ruth survive. As we never again see the other 6 or so scientists who were working at the lab, I’ll assume they were killed off-screen. Why are they all being eliminated? It seems (though not really stated in dialogue so I‘m kinda spitballing) that Exeter’s bosses have called him home because his project was a bust and he’s tying up some loose ends.

Heavy use of filters (again).

Cal and Ruth steal a light plane at an airfield and make a run for the border. A huge flying saucer appears over the treetops and it wastes no time tractor-beaming their plane up into itself before zipping off into outer space. If you were expecting any originality in the saucer’s design, something other than the humdrum Roswell-style pie plate and hub cap on a string, then you’re going to be sadly disappointed. I will give them a half a point for foleying in a roaring jet engine sound when the saucer flies by, that’s neat. But then I’ll take that half point back when I see the upward drifting smoke cloud from the fire-breathing engines as it races through space. Seriously, directors, for the last time, drop your rocket model down with the camera turned on its side, that way your exhaust flows straight back in the final print. How many times do I have to tell you this?

Why are all UFOs silver?

Once Cal and Ruth are aboard, Exeter greets them both and lets them know what everyone already figured out, that his people are aliens from a distant planet (“Metaluna”) and they are on their way there now, probably never to return to Earth. While Cal and Ruth initially put up some indignant resistance, they eventually give in to scientific curiosity and agree to an informal truce with Exeter. After all, they are the first humans to venture into outer space with an alien race, so they should be happy about that. Not that it’s out of character for the era, but neither Cal nor Ruth really seem that concerned or amazed that not only has life on other worlds been confirmed, but that they are personally on a spaceship with aliens heading across the stars. Just another day at the office.

Exeter makes his case for cooperation.

The spaceship’s interior is yawningly typical of similar 1950s b-movies attempts at showing spacey futuristic alien tech. Open floor plan with high ceilings? Check! Insanely uncomfortable chairs? Check! Huge banks of meaningless flashing lights? Check! Some sort of massive container of energy/spinning disco ball in the center of the room that one supposes controls everything onboard? Check! All the crewmen dressed in identical metallic jumpsuits with ridiculously impractical helmets? Check! Reverbing electronica chirps and wha-whas on the soundtrack at every turn? Check! It all really makes you even more impressed with the original 1960’s Star Trek‘s interior design crew, their bridge sets, even for alien races, really look functional and logical in a way that you rarely see in the 1950s.

That’s poor feng-shui.

There’s also a bank of these clear plastic tubes filled with backlit smoke that everyone, alien and human alike, has to stand in for a while to reconfribucalate their biocastanistas algorithms via gaseoushwha;089yuag9 penetration2hnai8sfjna therapy. Or something. I don’t care, it has nothing to do with the plot at all, and for some reason an inordinate amount of screen time is devoted to watching aliens and humans in these tubes just standing there looking angsty and mildly irritated. Like 8 minutes worth of this bloated filler, wasted opportunities when the timer has already reached the 1 hour mark.

OMG! Her hair!

But something is about to happen as the spaceship approaches the Metalunans homeworld and the dangers of being intercepted by “enemy ships” are discussed. Pam, what is this all about? Who could possibly threaten the great Metalunans with their lazer zappy thingies and their platinum hair?

It’s hard to imagine that anybody could threaten them, Nate. In fact, it’s hard to imagine why a race that is so much more technologically advanced than us can need our help. And this gives me an idea why Exeter is in trouble with his boss. Cal mentioned that his research was focused on changing lead to uranium, apparently by running an electric current through a slab of lead, and if Exeter was really dumb enough to believe that, the other scientists at the mansion were probably doing research equally as stupid, and whatever organization Exeter works for cut off his funding and yanked him back to Metaluna as fast as possible. But I digress.

The sole Metalunan woman onboard, working the carnie ride.

While Cal and Ruth are undergoing whatever in their tubes (maybe they’re being fumigated and Exeter was too polite to say so?), we see what looks like a huge luminous blue chunk of used chewing gum approaching the spaceship, which banks to avoid it. Then we hear an announcement that the ship is approaching the enemy control sector. It appears that the enemy has something better than gum to hurl at the Metalunans. The enemy, by the way, is the Zaygons, and they have remarkable technology at their command. They can control meteors, of which they seem to have an unlimited supply, and they’re hurling them at the Metalunans right and left. They also, it seems, can convert comets to planets, and that’s what they’re living on. As you might guess, Metaluna is having quite a bit of trouble fighting off the Zaygons. Metaluna is currently protecting itself with an “ionized layer” around the entire planet, but this ionized layer is generated by nuclear power, which requires uranium. Lots of uranium, and the Metalunans are nearly out of it. So this is why they came to Earth for help!

Is that thing no help?

But as you’ll recall, they didn’t get any, Cal never did figure out how to convert lead to uranium. As the spaceship makes its way through the ionized layer (and let’s not bother to ask why something that keeps out meteors will let a spaceship in), we see that all of Metaluna looks like a smoking burned-out battlefield. (That ionized layer must not work all that well.) I take that back. A closer look shows that it looks more like the surface of the Moon, and the landscape is covered with craters. Accompanied by ominous music, the spaceship slowly sinks into one of them. The Metalunans have built cities underground to protect themselves, but frequent explosions show that some of meteors are able to make their way through the craters, and in fact the underground is in only slightly better shape than the surface. As the travelers leave the spaceship and make their way to the nearest building, we see some very interesting architecture on the matte painting behind them, but unfortunately we won’t be getting a closer look.

Gorgeous towers back there.

From Exeter’s orders to set up Cal’s and Ruth’s equipment, we learn that they weren’t brought along as tourists, Metaluna is hoping they can help. But from Exeter’s remarks about the city, it appears the situation has deteriorated considerably since he last saw Metaluna, although every Metalunan other than Exeter maintains a detached, almost tranquilized, demeanor. Maybe they really have been gulping down tranquilizers by the handful, who could blame them? As a sign of Cal’s and Ruth’s importance, Exeter takes them right to the top, to the ruler of all Metaluna, who rejoices in the title of Monitor. The Monitor informs Cal and Ruth that Metaluna is indeed in dire straits, but he has a plan. The ionization layer will have to be maintained only until the population of Metaluna can relocate. Guess where they’re going to relocate to. Yes, you’re right, they’re going to move in with us. Exeter hastily informs them that the Metalunans want to get along with Earthlings, but Cal and Ruth don’t seem convinced, and the Monitor doesn’t seem to share Exeter’s conciliatory attitude. I think the Metalunans are coming whether we want them to or not, and they plan to do whatever they please with us once they get here.

The Monitor, Smurf-like ruler of the Metalunans.

The Monitor doesn’t seem to be that shrewd a politician, because he discusses the possibility of controlling the minds of all the Earthlings right in front of Cal and Ruth. Myself, I’m thinking he’s being pretty cocky for a man, or being, who’s just admitted that the Metalunans are getting thoroughly whipped in their war, to the point where most of them are dead. And things are getting worse, fast. He’s just ordered Exeter to take Cal and Ruth to the “thought transference chamber,” when he’s notified that the ionization layer is rapidly going downhill. And what is this “thought transference chamber?” Is he planning to control Cal’s and Ruth’s minds? How does he think they can continue their research if the Metalunans, who haven’t been able to figure out how to turn lead into uranium themselves, control all their thoughts? No wonder Metaluna’s losing the war, if this is the kind of intelligence Metalunan leadership has.

Oh they totally just redressed the spaceship set.

Exeter makes a token protest but obediently leads Cal and Ruth to the chamber. Just as I was wondering why Cal and Ruth are going so meekly, they make a break for it, but they run into something they weren’t expecting: a genuine Bug-Eyed Monster! I know I’ve seen the suit before, but I can’t remember what movie it was in. Exeter explains that it’s a mutant, bred to do menial labor, and that it’s here to guard the corridor, but from the way it lumbers along, it doesn’t seem to be able to do much more than look scary. Exeter assures Cal and Ruth that if they go inside the chamber, he guarantees their minds won’t be altered, but at this point they understandably feel that he’s used up the last of his credibility points and decide to take their chances with the monster. Their decision is made easier by a nearby explosion that knocks out Exeter.

The Bug-Eyed Monster refuses to stay still long
enough for a decent screencap, so here’s a studio shot.

By this time, Ruth is blubbering and hysterical like women were usually depicted in 1950s movies, but stalwart Cal has made the decision to go back to the spaceship, and back to the spaceship they go. By the way, it appears that the Monitor wasn’t lying when he said there were only a few Metalunans left. All we’ve seen so far are Exeter, the Monitor, some nameless assistant to the Monitor, and the Bug-Eyed Monster. Exeter has recovered enough to follow them and he seems to be on their side, which is probably a good thing, since although Cal seems firmly convinced he can get the spaceship back to Earth all on his own, the crew’s likely to refuse to cooperate with him even if he can figure out how to fly it. Nobody stops them, in fact nobody else is seen, and they make it into the spaceship, impeded only briefly by the Bug-Eyed Monster, who has beaten them to the spaceship. By what means, who knows, since it’s still slow and clumsy. It tries to stop them, but Cal clubs it with no trouble, and all three make it into the spaceship.

Back on the bridge.

It appears that the other Metalunans are either more patriotic than Exeter or dead, because the spaceship is dark and deserted. Exeter, who appears to be hurt, takes off in the nick of time, literally a minute before Metaluna is blown into nuclear fusion by the Zaygons. Exeter, who seems determined to look on the bright side to the point of being divorced from reality, says hopefully that perhaps the now-fiery Metaluna can serve as a sun to some planet. If he had any friends or family on Metaluna, he doesn’t mention it. So the spaceship heads back to Earth, with Cal, Ruth and Exeter now the best of friends, Cal and Ruth having apparently completely forgotten that Exeter murdered a number of their colleagues recently. On the other hand, he’s the only one who knows how to fly the spaceship, so what choice do they have other than to be nice to him?

Stuff goes boom.

Remember the Bug-Eyed Monster? We saw it for a total of only a couple of minutes. It might be slow and clumsy, but it seems to have brains enough for self-preservation. It sneaked aboard the spaceship just as the door was being closed, and now it staggers into the control room. Ruth, as per the standard B-movie heroine of the 1950s, screams at the top of her lungs as it tries to touch her. If it’s still trying to stop the humans, it must be remarkably dedicated, much more so than Exeter, but in view of the fact that it’s bleeding badly, it may actually have come to them seeking help. If so, it doesn’t get any. In short order, it collapses on the floor, and Cal, Ruth and Exeter look at it with all the concern they’d show to a stray animal that wandered in. It seems the Metalunans don’t treat their servants very well. They don’t even have to look at the creature’s body for very long, since it considerately disintegrates in a puff of smoke (really).

“Hey, can I maybe get some Bactine up in here?”

Free from the disagreeable presence of one of the lower orders, Exeter pilots the ship back to Earth. He looks even less well than he did a little while ago. Fortunately the airplane Cal and Ruth were flying in when Exeter sucked them into the spaceship is still there, and he’s going to let them fly home in it. But what of Exeter himself? He says nobly that he’ll go on to explore the universe, but Cal has divined, method unknown, that the spaceship used up all its fuel bringing them to Earth. It seems that Cal and Ruth have not only forgotten but forgiven Exeter’s murders, and they compassionately beg him to come home with him. Ruth promises sweetly to heal his wounds, but Exeter is adamant. So Cal and Ruth fly off in their plane, smiling and cuddling in the cockpit, as Exeter slumps in his seat but manages to crash the spaceship into the ocean that he’s conveniently over. So all’s well that ends well, except for Exeter. And the Bug-Eyed Monster. And the Metalunans. And Cal and Ruth’s colleagues. And poor Neutron, who presumably perished with the scientists. But at least Cal and Ruth are all right! Hmm, so are the Zaygons, now that I think of it. Wonder what they got out of destroying Metaluna? Let’s hope they don’t decide to make a little trip to Earth themselves.

Witnesses on that boat! Eliminate them!

This actually was a pretty good movie, despite the bad science, which after all is pretty standard in science fiction movies. Unfortunately, once our heroes get to Metaluna, the movie went off the rails. Up until then, it was well-paced and kept your attention, wondering what was going to happen next, but once on Metaluna, the pace speeded up and everything seemed to happen at once. I wonder, did the funding run out so the movie had to be wrapped up quickly? My brief search of the Internet shows that this might have been the case, since Universal, the studio that made this movie, seems to have felt it was costing too much. There were a couple of “Did I just hear that?” moments toward the end that suggest the writing got sloppy. The first I mentioned, when Ruth was so solicitous toward the wounded Exeter, but there was another one I didn’t mention, when Cal informed the Monitor that “The size of Earth is the size of our God.” Since nobody had mentioned any sort of religion at all up to that point, including Cal, this certainly came out of nowhere and was probably put in to hammer in the similarity of the Metalunans to the Godless Communists.

Metaluna under siege.

A lot of the movies MMT reviews are bad because somebody tried to stretch 30 minutes worth of story into a 90-minute movie, but this movie had the opposite problem. It could have used at least ten more minutes to explain who the Zaygons were and why they were attacking Metaluna, and why Metaluna had a shield but didn’t seem to be fighting back. And I would have liked to see a little more of Metalunan society to see if they were worth sympathizing with or if they were all, with the exception of Exeter, as cold-hearted as the Monitor. Besides, I wanted a closer look at Metalunan architecture. And why was Exeter so different from every other Metalunan we saw? Also, it would have been nice to have an explanation of why Ruth at first pretended not to know Cal. Was it just that during that long-ago summer she went farther with him than nice girls in the 1950s were supposed to, and now she’s afraid he’ll blab and ruin her reputation, or was something else going on? But overall, this wasn’t a bad movie. It’s well worth watching.

Proper ladies do not skinny dip.

And what did you think of this movie, Nate?

I have to agree, Pam, it was a pretty good show for the era and the subject matter, much more polished and funded than almost any other b-movie about daring scientists and crashing UFOs you’ll see from the 1950s. The ending did seem rushed, the movie could have really benefited from about 50% less Cal building the machine in the beginning and about 50% more time spent with the aliens and their plight. At some point the soul-crushing Xerox machine that is Hollywood will remake this one, probably with Justin Beiber and Miley Cyrus in the leads, so at least there’s that to look forward to.

[Hat tip to SaburoSP from Osaka for my fantastic digital copy]

The End.

Lots of great publicity photos for this movie.

Written in May 2014 by Nathan Decker and Pam Burda.

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