Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

THE ANDROMEDA STRAIN

"It's growing!" Kate Reid and Arthur Hill












THE ANDROMEDA STRAIN (1971). Director: Robert Wise.

Project Scoop, which collects organisms in space, crashes to earth  in a small town in New Mexico. Everyone is killed by a plague from an organism inside the scoop aside from an old man and a baby, both of whom are taken to a secret Nevada base known as "Wildfire," which was created to contain deadly biological alien entities. Inside the base several scientists try to figure out why these two particular humans survived, and to determine the exact nature of the organism that killed everyone else, and how it was transmitted. It is decided to wipe out the town with a bomb, but will that be such a good idea ...? The Andromeda Strain, based on a novel by Michael Crichton ["Micro"], was one of the first of the technological sci fi/medical thrillers, and it's a pip, well-directed by Wise and very suspenseful. [The movie Alien owes a lot to Andromeda's climax with its destruct mechanism that only allows a short time to cancel it]. Arthur Hill as the head of the team offers his usual competent if bland performance; James Olson, David Wayne and Paula Kelly are a bit more flavorful; and Kate Reid [A Delicate Balance] is simply outstanding as the grouchy, dyspeptic Dr. Ruth Leavitt -- she's a a real asset to the movie. Glenn Langan [The Amazing Colossal Man] has a small role as a politician and is fine. Remade as an A&E mini-series in 2008.

Verdict: Taut, creepy, and fascinating. ***1/2.

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