Earth Meets The Thing For The First Time

“The Thing From Another World” is a science fiction thriller first released in 1951. It has a little bit of a perplexing credit billing when one reads up on it, but I will stick with the essentials for the purposes of this blog.  So the main producer appears to be Howard Hawks alongside Edward Lasker with Christian Nyby as the credited directed, but there appears to be some dispute there.  Charles Lederer is the credited screenwriter with Hawks and someone named Ben Hecht as uncredited writers.  The cast seems to be more straight forward in that Margaret Sheridan, Kenneth Tobey, and Robert Cornthwaite are part of it with James Arness as “The Thing”.

I should also mention that the movie is based on a novella entitled “Who Goes There?” by John W. Campbell Jr. which was published in 1938.  So an alien creature stalking researchers in arctic climates has quite a history.

This film wasn’t quite as scary as the 1982 adaptation directed by John Carpenter, however it’s still worth a look.

The main characters were generally likeable and interesting.  Tobey plays an amicable Air Force captain who ends up heading up the defense of this research outpost after the Thing is awakened from its icy slumber in a foul mood.  The visual effects were quite good for this era.  The prosthetic make-up worn by Arness was appropriately creepy.

The performances were pretty good for the most part.  The characters seem to have a genuine bantering relationship during the calmer moments.  Sheridan and Tobey play characters with a romantic history and they are quite enjoyable in their scenes together as they consider rekindling their relationship.  Cornthwaite plays the scientist who has a more sympathetic take on the alien’s violent reaction.  He plays the typical obsessed researcher who ends up being a bit of a hindrance during the chaos.

The film has a rep for being one of the better science fiction experiences of the 1950’s, and I see little reason to dispute that.

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