Monday, July 31, 2017
This Island Earth (1955)
I can't believe I've never seem this film before! This Island Earth is classic 1950's Sci-Fi that is every bit as good as It Came From Outer Space or Forbidden Planet. Cinematographer Clifford Stine was in charge of the optical department at Universal Studios during the 1950's and was their "go-to" guy for special visual effects. His contribution to this film cannot be denied. This Island Earth is simply beautiful to look at and uses color to great effect. Many of the sets are fairly monochromatic so the color just pops when it is used in a scene. The painted backdrops are also really great and Stine is able to make all the different elements look seamless together. [Remember this is WAY pre-CGI so its not simple to accomplish.]
The plot is basic Sci-Fi fare but the screenplay smartly doesn't fill you in on all the details at the beginning of the movie. They keep handing you tidbits along the way so it keeps things interesting. The only weakness in the screenplay is that is is awfully wordy, but that's pretty typical of 50's Sci-Fi were they tried to explain EVERYTHING. Lots of pseudo-science abounds but, hey, that's part of the fun!
This Island Earth was also cast well. Rex Reason [The Creature Among Us] has a commanding presence on the screen as the scientist who kind-of saves the day. He has quite a booming voice which works to his advantage here. Faith Domergue [It Came From Beneath the Sea] is his sidekick, who is a scientist as well. However, this is the 1950's and her character is not exactly a self-empowered woman! Still, Domergue does a good job with the role. Finally, Jeff Morrow [The Creature Walks Among Us] is SPOILER ALERT Exeter, the Alien who is oh-so tan and has quite a five-head and quaff of white hair on top. [All the aliens look like this!] He give his character enough depth that you feel sorry for the guy in the end.
Last, but certainly not least, is the mutant monster whose costume is really well-done. He's given very little screen time and it makes you yearn for more. I actually have a figurine of this monster as a part of the Universal Monsters Little Big Heads Collection. They are a fit hard to find but are really well done.
So, grab this one off of YouTube and give it a go. You'll be glad you did!
For more info check out the film's entry in IMDB.