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The Thing from Another World 1951

Scientists and American Air Force officials fend off a blood-thirsty alien organism while at a remote arctic outpost...

Your rating: 0

Solar rating: 8.7


Imdb rating: 7.3



Lot of "SPOILERS" down below but some interesting reading... The Thing from another World is the original from 1951 and ahead of it's time, a true classic... 10/10
Unofficially directed by Howard Hawks (he received a producer's credit, while editor-turned-director, Christian Nyby, received the director's credit), and written by Charles Lederer (with uncredited rewrites by Hawks and collaborator Ben Hecht), The Thing From Another World melds structure, editing, images, and sound into a highly entertaining genre film. Hawks' film also offers contemporary audiences a window into U.S. socio/political/cultural history (i.e., Cold War-era politics and concerns).

In The Thing From Another World, an air force captain, Patrick Hendry (Kenneth Tobey) and his crew (accompanied by a reporter, Scotty , who functions as the Greek chorus commenting humorously on the unfolding action and as the audience stand-in for the heavy exposition scenes) are dispatched to a polar research station to investigate the crash landing in the of an unknown aircraft in the arctic wastelands. The craft, the characters and the audience soon discover, is alien in origin (not Russian, as first surmised) and circular in origin. Hawks handles this scene beautifully: as the men begin to walk to the edges of the buried ship, the music builds on the soundtrack (an early use of the theremin adds to the eerie sense of discomfort), and the camera cuts to a high shot, showing the men standing in a perfect circle. The attempt to extricate the craft from the ice by using thermite bombs results in the craft's destruction, but also in the discovery of the ship's lone occupant encased in ice.

The alien's body, still in ice, is removed, moved, and stored at the research station. The inadvertent use of an electric heating blanket, however, melts the ice and revives the alien, leading to conflict between the humans and the alien (whose intentions are initially unknown) and between the military and the scientists, who have contradictory goals. The military's basic goal is personal and group survival, whatever the cost to the advancement of science. The primary goal of the scientists, led by the autocratic Dr. Carrington (Robert Cornthwaite), is the pursuit of knowledge above all other (human) values.

Dr. Carrington is quickly revealed as the primary (human) antagonist. Carrington has all the accouterments of the untrustworthy scientist/intellectual from that era: the turtleneck, the smoking jacket, the graying goatee, and the supercilious, condescending manner. The values he represents, empirical science and rationality over emotion and compassion (and even personal survival), set him in direct opposition to Hendry's more humanistic values of group solidarity and camaraderie, and personal and group survival. For a science fiction/horror film, the body count is surprisingly low; the only human lives lost in the entire film are due to Dr. Carrington's errors. Their respective approaches to problem-solving are also marked by contrast: Dr. Carrington's autocratic approach means his decisions are made without consulting the other scientists or the military, and then cajoles and browbeats the other scientists into following his suggested course of action. Captain Hendry's style is more collaborative: although the obvious leader, he also shows an ability to make ever-shifting, reactive, but informed decisions based on the input of his crew members, primarily his Crew Chief (Dewey Martin), who's opening line of dialogue in every scene he appears in begins with "I have an idea" (the last time the line is uttered, the surrounding characters do a double-take and share a smile).

There is, of course, a strain of anti-intellectualism in the film's stance against Dr. Carrington and the values he represents. One character flippantly observes the responsibility of scientists for the atomic bomb (nuclear paranoia, subtext here, is more clearly evident in later science-fiction films from the same decade). The U.S. government, of course, funded the Manhattan Project,, with scientists operating under government and military direction. Nonetheless, scientists were viewed with a mixture of awe, fear, and distrust, whose judgment was better superseded by more pragmatic, grounded members of government (i.e., the military).

Returning to the film: the requisite romantic subplot, between the captain and a female scientist working at the research station, Nikki (Margaret Sheridan), adds a layer of complication and conflict that's seamlessly grafted onto the main plotline. The romantic subplot is first prepared through dialogue in the opening scene, as Captain Hendry's crew spar with him verbally over his suppressed, unresolved feelings for Nikki. The subplot itself is developed in only two scenes between Captain Hendry and Nikki. The only other scene that contains these two characters functions as the basis for a dramatic reversal and shifting loyalties from Dr. Carrington to Captain Hendry.

The alien itself (played by a lumbering James Arness) is barely seen. By my count, the alien appears only in four scenes (in a fifth scene, only his shadow is seen): encased in the ice, the first confrontation in the mess hell, at the greenhouse door, and later at the climax. Keeping the alien off screen, or when seen, half-hidden in shadow, was obviously meant to hide the low-budget, simple makeup effects, but here suspense is developed by suggestion, dialogue (the constant references to the alien, how to handle the alien and what to do with it, all exacerbated by internal dissension), Geiger counter readings, and carefully calibrated confrontations with the alien. The exposition on the alien's origins and nature is also handled deftly: as the scientists, the military, and the reporter Scotty discuss the alien, the alien's dismembered hand (lost in the mess hall confrontation) suddenly comes to life. This scene leads to additional conflict between the military and the scientists, as they discover the alien's need for human blood to survive and procreate (asexually, of course).

Stylewise, The Thing From Another World fits comfortably into Hawks' oeuvre, from the mis-en-scene (the grouping and placement of objects and people within the frame), where Hawk's often groups four to seven characters strategically placed inside the frame around a central point of interest, to the rapid-fire, overlapping dialogue reminiscent of His Girl Friday (itself based on a play by Ben Hecht, The Front Page, who helped with the dialogue here), to the tight, seemingly effortless editing, which contributes to narrative momentum, to the thematic preoccupation with the camaraderie of a group of professionals under duress.

There's really only one flaw worth mentioning: the lack of character depth for the secondary characters (a flaw shared by John Carpenter's The Thing). With so many secondary characters at the arctic research station, it's often difficult for the audience to differentiate among them, including Captain Hendry's aircrew. In fact, even after having seen The Thing From Another World multiple times, I still find it difficult to match the faces to the names of the two scientists who lose their lives on Dr. Carrington's gambit (their deaths occur off screen, making their deaths insubstantial and meaningless).

The Thing is one of the many SciFi movies of the 50's. A spaceship brings a monster to earth and then humans have to confront and defeat it. Very basic stuff.

Fortunately, the script's stronger than in a B-movie as we get different opinions on the fate of the alien (whether it should live or die). The directing ain't shabby either.

I do have some problems with the flick. First of all, the characters are barely developed and hard to tell apart (a flaw that's also in the remake). An other problem is the music score, it's very basic and rather distracting.
I wasn't too pleased with the acting either, at times it's rather apparent these are just people acting. Anyway, there's also an unnecessary romance subplot and to be honest, hardly any sense of real danger.

Still, it's an above average "creature from outer space" film, even though the remake is ten times better.
The Blob / The Thing From Another World

Both classic horror films, both rather dated, both were remade, and both are still decent films. Nothing extremely special though.

The Man Who Loved Women

Another solid, interesting, and at times very funny Truffuat film I watched in my Hitchcock/Truffaut film class.

John Carpenter has been an extremely terrible director as of late, but in his glory days he managed to create his own movie adaptation of a short story written by John W. Campbell, Jr. called "The Thing." The first adaptation was directed by Christian Nyby in 1951 and became an instant science fiction classic. However, as a fan of the film and the short story, John Carpenter noticed that "The Thing" as portrayed in the original film was easily identified, which went againt what was described in the short story.

There were two endings shot for Carptenter's film. The "theatrical friendly" version that featured Kurt Russell's character surviving the carnage and the true ending that featured Russel's and Keith David's characters being the only two left, but each of them uncertain if either one of them was "The Thing" and their future uncertain. Some people perfer the typical "theatrical friendly" ending, but I am a fan of the true ending.

It truly is quite amazing that by simply wanting an accurate portrayal of a classic alien, John Carpenter managed to create a classic horror movie that had an amazing cast, unique setting, and an amazing atmosphere. If there are any other fans of John Carpenter's The Thing, I'd like to know which ending you thought was better and why?
Classic sci-fi film is a bit slow at times, but is mostly great entertainment.
The Thing From Another World


A groupd of US scientists and servicemen, stationed on the North Pole, encounter an odd magnetic phenomenon that confuses all of their instruments. When the crew goes out to investigate, the find a block of ice containing an odd life form. But this is no archeological discovery -- because when the block melts, an invincible, grotesque creature, smarter and more powerful than humans, rises and goes on a rampage, almost destroying the polar station. Now the occupants of the station have to stop The Thing before it kills them...and embarks on its plan to destroy the planet.


A lot of people will be turned off by this movie because of how long ago it was made, which was 1951. While some of them are hard to watch, there are some that are still great to this day. 'The Thing From Another World' is one of those great movies, the story will grab your attention and after a half hour or so you'll get into the movie and stop thinking about the movie being in black and white. The effects really aren't that bad, the effects used aren't really that noticeable that they are fake like you would expect them to be.

I've learned to appreciate these older movies because for one thing without them, they wouldn't have influenced the numerous directors out there. We wouldn't have John Carpenters 'The Thing' if it weren't for this movie, which Carpenters version is actually a lot better. Carpenters version needed to be changed and he changed it perfect, because the 50's version wouldn't have had the same effect if he didn't twist the story around and make it alittle more in-depth.

For all of you out there that are afraid to see this movie because of the black and white, I say give it a chance. Or at least give Carpenters version a chance if you haven't seen it either. I'm pretty sure you will end up enjoying one of them, maybe even both, you'll never know unless you give it a chance.

The Thing is another 50's sci - fi flick that I have recently watched over again, and it seemed to be less scary then when I was younger. Now, after looking it over another time, I have to say that it's not exactly one of the best sci - fi classics in film history, but it's certainly worth it. It's shot in beautiful close - up's of black and white that make the scenery more realistic and stylish. The major disappoint was that it was a bit too wordy in the script and it lacked strong sci - fi elements that I was longing for. Of course it has it's moments with the alien, and I was happy the movie didn't repeat itself, like some others do. But, when it comes to this genre, I really want some strong sci - fi elements from the begining to the end, like The War of the Worlds. Otherwise, I'll just ingnore it and fall asleep. At some points in The Thing it was kind of boring with the constant, rushing, monlogue speeches, but it's somehow still enjoyable after all of these years.

Grade: B-

Interesting to note monster actor james Arness was so embarrassed by this role that he did not attend the premier. He complained that the costume made him look like a huge carrot. Which in some ways the nature of the monster is along the line of vegetable.
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