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

Thursday, April 20, 2017


Patricia Neal and Helmut Dantine
STRANGER FROM VENUS (aka Immediate Disaster/1954). Director: Burt Balaban.

A spaceship lands on earth, in England, and a weird if handsome man comes out who tells people in an inn that he is from Venus. He has a message he wishes to give to representatives of the world's governments, and is annoyed when only the British reps show up. The stranger (Helmut Dantine) saves the life of Susan North (Patricia Neal) after his landing causes her car to crash; she is engaged to undersecretary Arthur Walker (Derek Bond), who is uncooperative with the alien to say the least. The Venusian can heal people, and is afraid that the use of hydrogen bombs will move earth out of its orbit and endanger the other planets in the solar system. While one can understand why the producers of this cheap movie wanted Patricia Neal to star in this blatant rip-off of The Day the Earth Stood Still, it's hard to fathom why she signed for this picture once she read the script -- if she did. For most of its length the movie is dull, with a TV-like production, but it has some suspense in the final moments when the Venusian warns that if the military tries to ensnare the ship bringing the "higher officers" to earth, the mother ship will retaliate by incinerating the whole area. The movie actually has a sad conclusion as well as a nice score by Eric Spear. The actors, including Dantine [Call Me Madam] and Martigold Russell as Gretchen, a bar maid, are professional; Neal is fine but utterly wasted in this. Neal was obviously in the middle of a career slump. Balaban, who handles at least one sequence in this with some flair, also directed Lady of Vengeance.

Verdict: Gets better as it goes along but never quite hits the mark despite a good conclusion. **.

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