Countdown to Halloween – Day 22: The Thing from Another World (1951)
Cast: Kenneth Tobey as Captain Patrick Hendry
Margaret Sheridan as Nikki Nicholson
Robert Cornthwaite as Dr. Carrington
James Arness as The Thing
Based on the short story Who Goes There? by John W. Campbell Jr.
Screenplay by Charles Lederer
Directed by Christian Nyby & Howard Hawks
Plot: When a group of scientists at an Arctic research station stumble upon a spacecraft frozen in the ice, they discover the body of an alien life form. When the body thaws out and comes back to life, it becomes a battle of survival between the isolated crew and a creature that is a threat to mankind.
Personal Thoughts: The Thing from Another World is not only one of the best science fiction films of the 1950s but of all time. It would set the tone of alien invasion films that became a mainstay at theaters throughout the decade. The feeling of isolation in the frozen tundra permeates throughout the film as the small group of scientists and military men are in a fight for their very existence against a creature from another world. Unfortunately, we never really get a close-up of the Frankenstein-like creature but that adds to the mystery. Oh sure, there are some cheesy lines here and there, not to mention to the odd sexual tension between Captain Hendry and Nikki but they all add to what is a tremendous amount of fun. Highly recommended! And yes, I got to see this on the big screen at Cinema a Go Go as well and it was quite the treat!
- The first of to-date three films based on Who Goes There?, the 1938 novella written by John W. Campbell Jr. and published in Astounding Science Fiction.
- James Arness was actually quite embarrassed by his role and did not attend the premiere. Ironically, it remains the second most popular acting job he ever did, aside from his role as Marshall Matt Dillon in Gunsmoke.
- The government declined to work with Howard Hawks on the film as they were afraid it would be an admission of life on other planets.
- The creature is not a shape-changer as in the original story and subsequent films. However, early production sketches show that it was originally planned but, most likely, changed due to the low budget.
Availability: How is this not available on Blu-ray yet? That said, it is available on DVD from Warner Brothers.