It Conquered the World (1956)

“I won’t love a monster — I won’t!”

It Conquered the World Poster

Synopsis:
A cynical scientist (Lee Van Cleft) helps a Venusian alien (Paul Blaisdell) land on earth and begin a campaign to rid humans of all emotions — but his wife (Beverly Garland) and colleague (Peter Graves) are immediately concerned about his ideas.

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Review:
Roger Corman’s low-budget (what else?) alien-invasion flick is perhaps best known for Paul Blaisdell‘s ridiculously vegetable-like rubber Venusian alien, but actually remains a decent entry in the sub-genre of mid-century Communist hysteria films [such as Invaders From Mars (1953) and Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956)]. Van Cleef is eerily effective (and well-cast) in the central role as a scientist so disillusioned by humanity he’s allowed his ethos to be taken over by an alien agenda, certain that the Venusians will “rescue the world from itself”; and Garland is equally convincing as his concerned, no-nonsense wife. Charles B. Griffith’s sharp script does wonders with scenarios that are otherwise laughable (i.e., rubber bats flying at humans’ necks to remove all emotions), with several scenes in particular — i.e., Graves’ wife (Sally Fraser) matter-of-factly attempting to “infect” him — highly effective. I watched this one with MST3K commentary, but actually believe it should have been seen on its own first. Read And You Call Yourself a Scientist!’s review for an in-depth, appreciative look at this flick, in which the reviewer notes right away that “I have almost as much admiration for this film as I do affection, and I don’t intend to make fun of it any more than is absolutely necessary”.

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • Lee Van Cleef as Dr. Tom Anderson
    It Conquered the World Van Cleef and Garland
  • Beverly Garland as Claire Anderson
  • Charles B. Griffith’s solid B-script:

    “Oh, look! Can’t you two talk about anything else? I’m getting tired of hearing about nothing but satellites, isotopes, conical graduations, and the rest!”
    “I’d have to take a long, hard look at anything that was going to change the world — and me — so completely.”
    “You can’t rub the tarnish from men’s souls without losing a little of the silver, too.”

Must See?
Yes, as one of Corman’s better low-budget outings.

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One Response to “It Conquered the World (1956)”

  1. First viewing – not must-see.

    Boy, is this one *dull*! The way-over-written rip-off script doesn’t help matters at all. It’s a 70-minute film that feels a lot longer, and that’s never good either.

    Kudos, though, to Beverly Garland – for actually managing to breathe genuine life into her role and maintaining conviction.

    I watched the MST3K version as well. Any episode with original host Joel can be tough-going. Even though the co-host robots are rather dependable as always, Joel has zero charisma as a show host (he barely registers at all, really) and is totally lacking in the kind of comic zest that his successor Mike would eventually bring when he (thankfully) took over.

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