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

Thursday, May 26, 2011


INVADERS FROM MARS (1953). Director: William Cameron Menzies.

"The little man has had a big day."

A young boy, David (Jimmy Hunt), sees a spaceship land in the desert outside his house and soon discovers that aliens are taking over the minds of his parents and other townspeople. Dr. Kelston (Arthur Franz) and Dr. Blake (Helena Carter) believe the boy even though others think it's just his imagination. Although this was made before Invasion of the Body Snatchers -- which is a much better movie -- it shares some similarities with the later picture (which improved upon these ideas). There are many people who have very fond feelings for Invaders from Mars, but to me it's far from being a classic. Menzies' stylish sets, especially the path to the desert or moors, are good, and the viewer can get caught up in David's emotional concern for the welfare of his parents, but the movie is unintentionally comical and the dragged-out climax makes it seem like it's three hours long. Little Hunt is good, as is Hillary Brooke as his mother, and Morris Ankrum offers another stalwart portrait as the general in charge.The martians, unfortunately, look like duck-footed dorks in scratchy woolens, and I've never known what to make of that ugly head in the jar that leads them. [Although this "martian intelligence" is supposed to be male, it's played by diminutive actress Luce Potter.] The version of the film released in the U.K. has a better ending than the hokey one used for American prints.

Verdict: Watch It Conquered the World instead. **. 

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