My buddy Craig Kanne and I had the pleasure of watching IT CAME FROM OUTER SPACE (1953) a few days ago. Unfortunately, we did not see it in the 3-D format in which it was originally released. We had to settle for a measly two dimensions but they worked just fine for this classic science fiction film.
IT CAME FROM OUTER SPACE concerns the crash landing of an alien space craft in the American southwestern desert. Astronomer John Putnam (genre icon Richard Carlson) and his girl friend Ellen Fields (Barbara Rush) witness the crash and go to investigate, expecting to find a meteor. Instead, Putnam discovers the immense spherical alien craft and one of its' one-eyed occupants. Unfortunately, a landslide buries the space ship under tons of rock and no one will believe Putnam's story about aliens from outer space.
The twist here is that the aliens are not here to menace the earth (unlike countless other 1950s sf films). They're not entirely benign either but they simply don't want to be here on earth. They were on their way to another planet when their craft crashed and they just want to repair the ship and be on their way. They really don't want to have anything to do with humans at this point in time.
But the aliens must take over the consciousness of various humans and create zombie-like duplicates to do the repair work. Again, their intentions are misinterpreted but things finally work out and once the ship is repaired, the aliens and their advanced technology blast off to who knows where while Putnam optimistically predicts that they will one day return to earth on purpose.
IT CAME FROM OUTER SPACE is an intelligent and earnestly mounted film that provides much food for thought, especially in its' treatment of the aliens and their relationships (or lack thereof) with humans. That's largely thanks to the screenplay by Harry Essex and Ray Bradbury. Essex gets the main credit but there's much evidence to support the widely held belief that Bradbury contributed more to the script than Essex. The whole tone of the story feels Bradburyesque and some of the dialogue has the ring of poetry that so often infused Bradbury's prose.
IT CAME FROM OUTER SPACE is an important genre touchstone for a variety of reasons. It was the first science fiction film to be produced by Universal-International. It was the first American science fiction to use the desert landscape of the Southwest as a setting. It was the first science fiction film to star Richard Carlson, who went on to become a genre icon. And it was the first science fiction film to be directed by genre auteur Jack Arnold who went on to direct THE CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON (1954), REVENGE OF THE CREATURE (1955), TARANTULA (1955), THE INCREDIBLE SHRINKING MAN ( 1957), THE SPACE CHILDREN (1958) and MONSTER ON THE CAMPUS (1958).
IT CAME FROM OUTER SPACE is essential viewing for anyone who is a fan of 1950s science fiction films. Craig and I thoroughly enjoyed watching it and you will too. Highly recommended.