This Island Earth (1955)

“It is indeed typical that you Earth people refuse to believe in the superiority of any world but your own.”

This Island Earth Poster

Synopsis:
A scientist (Rex Reason) puts together a device made from highly advanced electronic parts and soon finds himself communicating with a high-foreheaded man named Exeter (Jeff Morrow), who brings him to a mansion in Georgia where other scientists — including beautiful Dr. Adams (Faith Domergue) — are working together. Soon Reason and Domergue are transported to the planet of Metaluna, where they learn the real reason behind Exeter’s visit to Earth.

Genres:

As I was in the middle of writing this review, I clicked on The New York Times’ daily headlines and saw this news of Rex Reason’s passing. RIP, Rex.

Response to Peary’s Review:
As Peary writes, this “colorful, imaginative, gadget-laden sci-fi” flick — based on a “novel by Raymond F. Jones” — features “many fine special effects and some impressive art design of the alien planet”. It’s hokey and pulpy in many ways — starting with hunky “Rex Reason” (his real name) playing a chisel-jawed pilot/scientist with a velvety baritone voice, and continuing with the laughably high-foreheaded aliens (trying to pass as humans??) and even more laughably huge-brained mutant monsters, which “are around for a few moments of suspense [and] laughs”. But everyone plays their roles straight, and we can’t help getting caught up in the interstellar drama of it all. According to IMDb, this film has been referenced countless times (including a snippet shown in E.T.), and DVD Savant notes that it “has the distinction of being the first 50s Sci Fi picture to be given a thorough genre analysis, courtesy of Raymond Durgnat in his 1967 book Films and Feelings.”

Note: This Island Earth is perhaps best known by modern audiences as the basis for Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Movie (1996), which I haven’t yet seen.

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • Fine special effects and art design
    This Island Earth Special Effects1
    Special Effects3
    Special Effects2
    Special Effects4

Must See?
Yes. While not a certified classic, this remains a colorful and unique early sci-fi outing.

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One Response to “This Island Earth (1955)”

  1. A once-must, for its place in cinema history.

    Just rewatched this (after many years – as is the case with many of the films on these lists; obviously I started quite young as a film fanatic 😉 ).

    It’s true that this isn’t a ‘certified classic’ – there’s something ‘minor league’ about it. Yet it’s put together well for a flick of its type and does rise above some other sci-fi films of the period. It has most of the standard ’50s-esque effects (very rarely here are they actually silly-looking) yet, visually, it becomes more interesting in the last 20 minutes or so.

    The dialogue is occasionally chuckle-worthy (i.e., “In this case, I wouldn’t believe my *grandmother*!”) but the cast works admirably with complete conviction.

    It will no doubt appeal most to ‘pure science’ geeks. In the first 10 minutes, the science talk is so specific that, for the most part, I have no idea what anyone is really talking about (not that it matters; as things progress, all becomes clear).

    ‘TIE’ doesn’t fall in with my preferred type of sci-fi storytelling – and it’s really too short for it to develop into much. But it moves at a nice clip and should keep the interest of those checking it out as part of sci-fi movie history.

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