This Island Earth (1955)

Aliens have landed and are hiding on Earth, but need Earth’s scientists to help them fight an inter-planetary war.

Captures the fear of the atomic age perfectly.
Carl Meacham is an atomic scientist, who after passing a cunning test, gets invited to work at a top secret lab out in Georgia by the rather odd looking man known as Exeter. The project is apparently in the cause of finding world peace, and once arriving at his destination, Carl finds other notable scientists are also there, including the radiant Ruth Adams. As things progress things don't quite add up, and this leads to a realisation that the future of Earth could very well be in the balance.
"This Island Earth" not only divides the casual film viewer, it's also proved divisive amongst the most hardened of sci-fi genre supporters. Some say the story is barely worth a second glance, whilst others point to a distinct lack of scientific nous as a reason to do the film down. To me I find it to be very much on the money for the era it was made. This film comes nearly ten years after America ended World War II with an atomic attack on Japan, when nuclear reactors had been commissioned and were no longer seen solely as a weapon of mass destruction, in short the nuclear age was prominent and very much a reality.
Yes the film is a far fetched fantasy, and it tries too hard to encompass a myriad of plot strands - something which to the younger viewers is likely to fly right over their heads. Yet the value here comes very much in the production as a whole. Marvel at the sets, the model work and the gadgets that feature heavily in this delicious slice of berserker sci-fi. Take in the incredible work of cinematographer Clifford Stine as we find ourselves on a desolate planet. It's a beacon of the genre because it identified the benefits of Technicolor to the sci-fi splinter of film and used it vividly to enhance the story (even if some subsequent home entertainment releases failed to restore it to a print fully worthy of the colour venture). The lovely Faith Domergue and square jawed Rex Reason play our intrepid scientists with verve and vigour, whilst Jeff Morrow is uneasily quirky as the mysterious Exeter.
Directed by Joseph M. Newman (out of his genre comfort zones) offering up a technically wonderful film, it does make one rue that he didn't make more sci-fi pictures. For this is a shining genre light made at a time when cinema was a craft from all quarters of the medium, for also it's intelligent and knowingly astute of its own time frame. So don't believe the nay sayers on this, because this is a smart and poetic fantasy that also contains genuine moments of cinematic beauty. 7/10

Universal International Pictures by Joseph M. Newman, Raymond F. Jones, Franklin Coen, George Callahan.
Stars: Jeff Morrow, Faith Domergue, Rex Reason, Lance Fuller.

Genres: Horror, Mystery, Sci-Fi

Keywords: extraterrestrial technology spacecraft mutant georgia flying saucer space travel nobel prize laureate resettlement space alien scientist interplanetary war

06/15/1955

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