It Came from Outer Space is a black-and-white Sci-Fi movie from 1953, based on a Ray Bradbury story and produced by Universal International Pictures. It runs 81 minutes and was shown in 3-D. The rating in the USA is "Approved".
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- Director: Jack Arnold
- Jack Arnold (1916-1992) began his career on Broadway and served in the Army in WWII. He also directed The Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954), Tarantula (1955), High School Confidential! (1958), The Mouse That Roared (1959), Gilligan's Island (1964, TV), and The Brady Bunch (1969, TV).
- Producer: William Alland
- William Alland (1916-1997) began his career with stage acting. He met Orson Welles in Manhattan, acted in the War of the Worlds radio broadcast, and played reporter Jerry Thompson in Citizen Kane (1941). Allan produced a slew of Sci-Fi and Westerns for Universal in the 1950s, including Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954), This Island Earth (1955), and Tarantula (1955).
- Richard Carlson as John Putnam, amateur astronomer
- Richard Carlson (1912-1977) got a master's degree at the University of Minnesota, acted on Broadway, and was brought to Hollywood in 1938 by David O. Selznick as a writer for The Young At Heart, which he also acted in. Much of his acting was in B movies in the '30s, '40s, and '50s, including The Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954), and was at first typecast as a rebellious teenager. He served in the Navy in WWII, and later starred in I Led Three Lives (1953, TV).
- Barbara Rush as Ellen Rush, girlfriend
- Barbara Rush (b. 1927) also starred in When Worlds Collide (1951), Oh Men! Oh Women! (1957), The Young Lions (1958), and was a "special guest villian" in a 1968 Batman episode.
- Charles Drake as the Sheriff
- Charles Drake (1917-1994) was born Charles Ruppert and was a salesman before he got into show biz. He also appeared in The Maltese Falcon (1941), A Night in Casablanca (1946), and Gunsmoke (1953).
- Joe Sawyer as Frank Daylon
- Joe Sawyer (1906-1982) had appeared in well over a hundred movies previous to It Came from Outer Space, including a number of 45-minute "streamliner" pictures for Hal Roach Studios in the '40s. He also appeared in The Petrified Forest (1936), Tanks a Million (1946), The Killing (1956), and Rin Tin Tin (1954, TV). He also had an uncredited part in Them! (1954).
- Russell Johnson as George
- Russel Johnson (b. 1924) is best known as the Professor from Gilligan's Island. He grew up in Pennsylvania, earned a Purple Heart in the Phillipines in WWII (he flew for the Army) and used the G. I. Bill to enroll in acting school. Before becoming the Professor he acted in several Western and Sci-Fi movies, including This Island Earth (1955).
- Kathleen Hughes as Jane
- Kathleen Hughes (b. 1928) was recruited out of UCLA to be a contract actress for Twentieth Century Fox, but got better parts (still mostly supporting roles) when she later signed with Universal. She also appeared in For Men Only (1952), The Glass Web (1953), and a few TV shows including Alfred Hitchcock Presents (1955, TV).
John, an amateur astronomer living in the desert, sees a meteor crash to earth. When he and Ellen go to check it out, he climbs down into the crater and is the only one to see that the "meteor" was actually a spaceship that immediately covered itself with rubble. But nobody believes him! A creature from the ship (whose distinguishing feature is its one enormous eye) sneaks around, and captures people - including Ellen - by enveloping them in a fog and then taking over their bodies so they will have mechanics to help repair their ship. The aliens are actually on their way to another planet.
It was one of the first movies to show aliens manipulating people rather than just being a force to do battle with. Some have called the plot an allegory about Communism, criticizing the mob mentality of McCarthyism (Sheriff to John, on why nobody believes him: "You frighten them, and what frightens them they're against in one way or another"). Also interesting is the point that the aliens are neither come to destroy us nor to help us; they are merely passing through. It was among the first movies to use 3-D glasses and theremin music.
As 1950s Sci-Fi movies go, it's pretty good, though I wouldn't rate it up there with The Day The Earth Stood Still. The story is interesting, if a bit slow; and although the shot-through-a-jello-mold view (representing the alien's point of view) is a bit corny, it was one of the first times a movie showed the monsters' perspective on the earthlings. There's a nice shot toward the beginning (just after the first victim was attacked) in which the jello-mold fades out of view; when the camera angle changes, we realize that the alien is now appearing in George's body.
Working titles were: Atomic Monster, The Meteor, and Strangers from Outer Space.
The Universal make-up department submitted two alien designs for this movie; the one that was rejected was later used in This Island Earth (1955), the movie that was the basis for MST3K: The Movie.
The title is featured in the first verse of The Rocky Horror Picture Show theme song, a song which is for the most part a list of references to old sci-fi movies:
Michael Rennie was ill The Day the Earth Stood Still
But he told us where we stand
And Flash Gordon was there in silver underwear
Claude Raines was The Invisible Man
Then something went wrong for Fay Wray and King Kong
They got caught in a celluloid jam
Then at a deadly pace It Came from Outer Space
And this is how the message ran...
sources: IMDB, movies.yahoo.com, http://greg.turtleprod.com/568