Director: Fred F. Sears
Starring: Hugh Marlowe, Joan Taylor, Donald Curtis and Morris Ankrum, among others.
"Since biblical times man has witnessed and recorded strange manifestations in the sky, and speculated on the possibilities of... visitors... from another world."
Now I've finally seen one of the most iconic alien invader films - and of course, it was amazing. Perhaps not Academy Award winning actors, but they were not bad. Perhaps the film is not legendary for it's magnificent cinematography, and it re-uses a lot of stock footage from other similar films, but there are some really cool camera angles and the special effects (by the legend Ray Harryhausen) are truly fascinating. I will include screenshots, so you know what I'm talking about.
This film does not wait for the action - in the first scene we see the main characters Dr. Russell A. Marvin (Hugh Marlowe, who we recognize from All About Eve) and his wife Carol (the beautiful Joan Taylor) they witness a flying saucer flying over their car. Within 20 minutes the action has started big time, with invasions, explosions and extraterrestrials.
It is Dr. Marvin that gets the first conversation with the extraterrestrials. He finds out that they want to take over Earth and enslave its inhabitants, since their own planet has been destroyed. A fun thing to find out while being in their space ship miles and miles from Earth. Luckily enough, they want Dr. Marvin to transfer that message to Washington D C, to try to find a peaceful solution to the whole matter.
As General Edmunds say:
"When an armed and threatening power lands uninvited in our capitol, we don't meet him with tea and cookies!"Therefore they try to find something to fight off the enemy with, since they painfully have realized that ordinary weapons have no effect on the flying saucers. The rest is epic battle - Earth vs. the flying saucers, as the title implies.
What I really appreciated with this film was the science talk (to put it professionally). Everything that is said is unusually credible. Instead of inventing super-duper-mega-weapons like they do in all modern science fiction films, they build their weapons according to real things like magnetic fields and sound frequencies. Even though their final weapon probably can't be created (or at least would work in real life like it does in the film), we buy it. And since we understand what they are talking about, the planning scenes become very interesting. Even the aliens and their advanced technologies are credible - that's impressing.
Another thing I was gladly surprised by was the leading actress, Joan Taylor. I had expected the usual scream queen, annoying and unnecessary. Instead she was calm, sensible and was an active part of planning and preparing for the invasion. Of course only to a proper extent, it's still the 1950's and a woman can't take up too much space.
The main reason to why I chose to watch Earth vs. the Flying Saucers before anything else in this genre was however Ray Harryhausen.
A friend of mine is an absolute Harryhausen fanatic, and managed to make me interested his work. He could be called the master of stop motion, having been inspired to work with special effects after having watched King Kong (1933). This is the third film I've seen with his special effects, and I'm starting to get slightly obsessed by him. There is something magical about his creatures, and knowing what extreme effort and time there lies beyond it... I have no words. I'm just fascinated.
The two other Harryhausen films I've seen this far is The 7th Voyage of Sinbad (1958), an absolutely amazing adventure film with cheesy actors, and Clash of the Titans (1981), a pretty lame film but with awesome fantasy creatures by the Harryhausen hand. And do not say anything bad abuot the R2D2 owl!
Earth vs. the Flying Saucers was however, according to his own biography, his least favorite work. And as for being that, I must concider him a God.
Now - a happy ending! (Or... is it??)