|It's no exaggeration to say that the poster art (by Reynold Brown) pictured above is far and away the single best thing about WORLD WITHOUT END (1956), a soporific science fiction film that I watched this afternoon.|
A flight to Mars with a crew of four runs into an unexplained time warp in deep space. Their ship is deposited on an unknown planet which is clearly not Mars. As the crew explores the countryside, they discover that they are on Earth in the far future. It's a world of giant, cave-dwelling spiders, and savage, cyclopean cavemen. Normal humans exist in an underground society where the men are weak and slightly effeminate and all of the women are hot. Smoking hot. It's a neat inversion of the future Earth found in THE TIME MACHINE (1960), where the tame, timid humans lived on the surface and were menaced by the bestial underground living Morlocks.
The men realize that they cannot return to their own time so they try to rally the humans to return to the surface and reestablish their society there where it can grow and thrive. They meet with resistance but eventually win them over. The crew (along with a cute young woman), return to the surface, do battle with the cavemen and defeat them, thus allowing the humans to return to the surface and begin rebuilding civilization.
Leadenly paced, with long passages of nothing but bad, stilted and wooden expository dialogue, WORLD WITHOUT END is a snoozer. I know I nodded off a couple of times. The art direction is decent but the underground sets all have the same geometric designs and tons of mid-century modern furniture. The color cinematography is vivid and lush but director Edward Bernds doesn't use the CinemaScope format to its' full advantage.
Bernds had an interesting career as a director. He helmed many of the Three Stooges two-reelers at Columbia before moving into feature films. His other genre efforts include QUEEN OF OUTER SPACE (1958), RETURN OF THE FLY (1959) and VALLEY OF THE DRAGONS (1961).
The crew of the space ship includes genre veterans Hugh Marlowe and Rod Taylor. Marlowe appeared in THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL (1951) and EARTH VS. THE FLYING SAUCERS (1956), both of which are superior to WORLD WITHOUT END. Taylor still has a bit of an Aussie accent here and would of course go on to star in George Pal's masterpiece THE TIME MACHINE (1960).
While watching WORLD I couldn't help but wonder what all involved thought about what they were doing while the film was in production. They had to know the material was pretty dreadful but everyone was drawing a paycheck for their work and for all involved both in front of and behind the camera, that's what really mattered.
WORLD WITHOUT END is worth seeing at least once if you're a fan of 1950s science fiction films. Just don't expect much.