Thursday, July 7, 2011

This Island Earth (1955)

Director: Joseph M. Newman

Starring: Jeff Morrow, Faith Domergue, Rex Reason, Lance Fuller, Russell Johnson

More info: IMDb

Tagline: Two mortals trapped in outer space... challenging the unearthly furies of an outlaw planet gone mad!

Plot: When an alien in distress (Morrow) recruits American scientists Ruth Adams (Domergue) and Cal Meacham (Reason) to help him win an intergalactic battle against the evil Zahgons, the Earthlings earthlings find themselves falling in love -- and trapped in outer space. Now, the only way for them to get back home is to stand up to an army of horrific creatures and fight their way through a meteor shower in a hijacked spacecraft.

My rating: 7/10

Will I watch it again? Yeah, I could but there's just so much out there I've yet to see.

This is one of those seemingly rare 1950s sci-fi flicks that actually has a detailed and involved good science fiction story. Just like the main character, Dr. Meacham, we're in the dark as to who we're dealing with and we learn a little at a time. When we finally get the big picture near the end, we're on another planet and need to quickly escape and return home. There's a lot going on in the 87 minutes allotted.

The performances are fine (Rex Reason's voice has to be one of the deepest in cinema history and can be distracting at times). It's always fun seeing Russell Johnson (The Professor from GILLIGAN'S ISLAND) in anything. He was a staple during this time in these kinds of pictures. I really dig the look of the alien race. It seems the people who made WILLY WONKA AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY (1971) liked it so much they stole it for the Oompa Loompas. The music is from the stock writers at Universal which included Henry Mancini, Hans J. Salter and Herman Stein.

For some reason I remember seeing this in black & white and I was pleasantly surprised when it started in color. It would have been just as good in B&W but seeing it in Technicolor makes it that much more special. It was kind of rare for a B picture of this era to be in color. THIS ISLAND EARTH is a solid piece of science fiction entertainment that gives you something to think about and a good deal of action and spaceship/laser blasting goodness.

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