20 Million Miles To Earth (1957)

“Why is it always, always, so costly for man to move from the present to the future?”

20 Million Miles Poster

Synopsis:
When a spaceship crashes into the Mediterranean, two fishermen (George Khoury and Don Orlando) and a boy (Bart Braverman) rescue two of the passengers, of whom only one (William Hopper) survives. While a beautiful doctor-in-training (Joan Taylor) treats Hopper’s wounds, Braverman secretly sells a Venusian specimen that washed ashore to Taylor’s zoologist-grandfather (Frank Puglia) — but once the creature hatches, it soon grows into an enormous monster that terrorizes Rome.

Genres:

Response to Peary’s Review:
Primarily known for showcasing “the first of special-effects expert Ray Harryhausen’s Dynamation creatures”, this “lively film” features “an impressive monster — one that would serve as [a] model for future Harryhausen creations”. Unfortunately, beyond the admittedly impressive animation — including a lengthy finale in which the monster ravages Rome (chosen as the location because Harryhausen wanted to take a vacation there!) — the film itself lacks a narrative leg to stand on. It’s truly a “monster flick”, with a misunderstood creature vainly attempting to elude capture while the film’s handsome male and female protagonists inevitably fall in ’50s love (after hating each other first, naturally). The most interesting scene takes place right away, as a Sicilian fisherman (uncredited Khoury) bravely insists to his companion (cowardly Orlando, also uncredited) that they must enter the sinking spaceship to locate any survivors; why in the world is Khoury’s noble character immediately discarded and forgotten? But, as DVD Savant argues, “a monster movie with a good monster is a good monster movie”, and one (perhaps) shouldn’t take the movie “to task for its cinematic deficiencies.” Perhaps.

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • Effective “dynamation” by Ray Harryhausen
    20 Million Miles Dynamation Baby
  • Good use of Rome locales
    20 Million Miles Rome b&w

Must See?
No, though of course it’s recommended for Harryhausen fans.

Links:

One Response to “20 Million Miles To Earth (1957)”

  1. A verrry tentative must-see – and that’s said only because of Harryhausen’s standout work.

    I would disagree with DVD Savant in this case – a monster movie with a good monster is…not…necessarily a good monster movie; one *should* take this film to task for its cinematic deficiencies.

    ~because those deficiencies are considerable.The script is ridiculously bad. The acting is atrocious. The direction is just a step above Ed Wood’s. Harryhausen’s remarkable contribution (all the more remarkable because the creature grows as the film progresses) is in constant competition with a film that is forever dragging it to the ground. ~which is really a shame. It’s great special effects…in a film that is basically a bore.

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