IT CAME FROM
STARRING: Richard Carlson, Barbara
Rush, Charles Drake, Russell Johnson, Kathleen Hughes, Joseph Sawyer
1953, 81 Minutes, Directed by:
the lurid title and the involvement of several genre regulars, It Came from
Outer Space is hardly a typical ‘Fifties sci-fi movie because:
(a) It was based on material by
a bona fide science fiction writer, namely Ray Bradbury’s short story The
(b) Unlike most movies of its
era it isn’t an alien invasion tale.
In an age of Red Scare paranoia
flicks such as Invasion of the Body Snatchers and
its ilk, It Came From Outer Space is a more sober and cerebral effort.
One evening an amateur astronomer (played by Richard Carlson of
Creature from the
Black Lagoon fame) and his girlfriend (Barbara Rush,
When Worlds Collide) witnesses a falling meteor. Upon further investigation
it becomes clear that the meteor is in fact an alien spaceship, now buried
beneath tons of rubble.
Our astronomer hero tries to
alert the authorities but is largely ignored or ridiculed for his efforts
because he is already viewed as a bit of an eccentric oddball although it is
never exactly clear why this should be the case - maybe it is because he smokes
a pipe and has elbow patches on his suit. Who knows?. Soon it becomes apparent
that an alien presence is “taking over” several townsfolk.
Prelude to an alien invasion?
In most movies of the time it would be, but in this underappreciated 1953 effort
it is a case simply of the aliens wanting to repair their spaceship and getting
back to their planet pronto. And who can blame them? It Came From Outer Space
subtly hints at the paranoia, conservatism and conformity of the 1950s. At one
point the local Sheriff organizes a posse to round up the aliens, but they more
resemble a dangerous lynching mob than anything else. In It Came from Outer
Space the aliens may not exactly be as friendly as the little guys in
Close Encounters of the Third Kind, but they are just
as distrustful of us as we are of them.
Staid by modern standards,
It Came from Outer Space will most appeal to aficionados of movies of the
era as well as curious Ray Bradbury fans. It was directed by Jack Arnold who
also directed several other 1950s classics such as
Shrinking Man, Tarantula and some of the Creature from the Black
Lagoon movies. Interestingly enough it was released as a 3D film back then,
something one wouldn’t have guessed beforehand.