It Came from Outer Space (1953)

It Came from Outer Space (1953), directed by Jack Arnold.

I have an enduring fondness for 1950s science fiction movies, no doubt because I lived on them when young. Universal's titles, often directed by Jack Arnold in the California desert, were central to the genre, and this one played almost continually on TV back then.

I think it's one of the best. I love the eerie theramin ambience and admire the boldness of having totally non-humanoid aliens.

Barbara Rush is exceedingly beautiful and actually lethal in an evening gown. She screams as required.

From a story by Ray Bradbury and he wrote the screenplay but didn't get credit. You can hear his dialogue in a few places, such as the musings on the desert by the linemen and prospectors.

It was commended for its restrained use of 3D. I saw a 3D showing once and found the effect gimmicky, but I'm the wrong person to consult about that art form. I think the composition and photography are quite nice. The mixture of location, studio, and rear projection shots can be annoying, but in this case I think the mix contributes story-telling power.

The DVD has a busy commentary track by an SF film authority. I thought he said that this was a widescreen picture, but I can't find references to it being other than 1.37:1.

He also debunks the notion that this is a rare SF picture with benevolent aliens; they were not uncommon back then. On the other hand, these visitors don't give many reasons to trust them and he thinks our hero Richard Carlson is nuts to do so.

While preparing this I heard that Ray Bradbury had died. He was an incredible writer. His Something Wicked This Way Comes was one of my favorites way back then and very strange: don't the boys climb a tree to watch an orgy? How did that get into the school library? I didn't read Dandelion Wine until I was an adult.