Thursday, April 6, 2017
IT CAME FROM OUTER SPACE
Astronomer John Putnam (Richard Carlson) sees what he thinks is a meteorite crash to earth, but discovers it is actually a spaceship. When a rock slide covers up the entrance to a cave inside which the ship is hidden, Putnam finds that few people will believe what he saw. His girlfriend, Ellen (Barbara Rush) stands by him, but the local sheriff (Charles Drake), who also seems to have a yen for Ellen, is adamant that Putnam is nuts. Before too long the aliens, who can resemble humans, make their presence known in frightening ways. It Came from Outer Space is a creepy, very well-directed sci-fi thriller that also has a thoughtful sub-text of small-town conformity versus open-minded imagination, with Putnam and Drake representing the opposite poles. Director Arnold, as he often did, makes good use of the desert milieu. The performances are fine, and the fifties-type effects more than serviceable. There are some confusing aspects to the movie, however, such as Putnam's reaction when the alien reveals his true form to him, even though it appears that both he and Ellen have already seen the space beings in their natural form (which may have influenced the nastier aliens in The Crawling Eye). There is no on-screen credit for the composers, but the effective score was obviously influenced by Herrmann's work on The Day the Earth Stood Still. A scene when Ellen is frightened by what is obviously a little boy dressed as a space cadet makes her seem mildly demented. Jack Arnold also directed the desert-oriented Tarantula.
Years ago I read an analysis of this film in which the author asserts that one sequence shows how the aliens aren't really that familiar with our species, citing an alleged sequence when two line men (Joe Sawyer; Russell Johnson) walk down the street holding hands. While this is certainly intriguing, this scene does not appear in the movie, and never did.
Verdict: I had forgotten how entertaining the darn thing is! ***.