Wednesday, January 02, 2019

Tonight's Movie: The Thing From Another World (1951) - A Warner Archive Blu-ray Review

The thoroughly delightful sci-fi thriller THE THING FROM ANOTHER WORLD (1951) has just been released on Blu-ray by the Warner Archive.

I saw this film for the first time in 2015, and as I wrote then, I was so taken with it that I couldn't help thinking "Where has this been all my life?"

I've been making up for lost time since then, as this new Blu-ray was the third time I'd watched the movie in a little over three years! This film is simply a ball to spend time with, and I look forward to revisiting it often thanks to this gorgeous new release.

I recounted in my original review that credited director Christian Nyby was said by star Kenneth Tobey to have only directed one scene. In actuality the film was directed by producer Howard Hawks, with plenty of his trademark overlapping dialogue and saucy banter between the lead characters, Captain Patrick Hendry (Tobey) and Nikki Nicholson (Margaret Sheridan).

They're among the team at the top of the world fighting an alien (James Arness) who crash landed in a flying saucer and needs human blood to survive. While Captain Hendry and his capable crew gather information on the creature which will enable them to successfully fight it, Hendry is also busy flirting with Nikki; the pair had had an unsuccessful date in the past, but there's clearly an attraction between the two, who seem to be having a grand time being together despite the bloodthirsty monster in their midst.

As someone who's quite "chicken" about sci-fi and horror films, I love the fact that this film has thrills and chills yet at the same time isn't terribly scary. It's hard to be terrified when the men are wisecracking and Nikki's teasing the Captain about getting married.

The film has humor to spare, along with the dashes of romance and plenty of camaraderie as a small group works together to overcome a very big problem. I love the way they go after the creature with everything from axes and knives to fire to electricity. I keep coming back to the word "fun" in my mind, and that's what I think of any time I think of the film; it's a grand thrill ride of a movie.

The movie careens along quickly, with a great deal happening in a relatively short time; it's a very fast 87 minutes and should be a model for modern filmmakers who don't understand that less can be more.

Tobey and Sheridan are terrific in the leads; they should have had more successful careers. Not that Tobey's career was anything minor, as he also appeared in the sci-fi classics THE BEAST FROM 20,000 FATHOMS (1953) and IT CAME FROM BENEATH THE SEA (1955) and is well known to fans of the genre. But he's so good in this one wonders why his career wasn't even bigger.

I also especially like Dewey Martin (seen recently in TEN THOUSAND BEDROOMS) as the Crew Chief and Douglas Spencer as the newspaper reporter who has to sit on the story. His final line is the classic sci-fi warning "Keep watching the skies!"

The Blu-ray looks and sounds absolutely great, showing off Russell Harlan's black and white cinematography and Dimitri Tiomkin's score.

The Warner Archive Blu-ray is a complete restored edition of the film; for more on this aspect, Glenn Erickson's CineSavant column goes into considerable detail.

The only extras on the disc are two trailers.

For some reason there isn't currently a link for this release at the WB Shop. I will add it when it's available. I currently have only found it listed at Amazon so it's possible they have it as a short-term exclusive, but that's just a guess on my part. (Update: Here is the WB Shop link!)

A highly recommended release.

Thanks to the Warner Archive for providing a review copy of this Blu-ray. Warner Archive Blu-rays may be ordered from the WBShop or from any online retailers where DVDs and Blu-rays are sold.


Blogger Caftan Woman said...

It makes me so happy to know this movie is now in your life, and that this release sounds so spectacular.

6:11 AM  
Blogger Margot Shelby said...

I absolutely love this movie. I agree, don't know why Tobey didn't have a bigger career. I liked him a lot. His scenes with Sheridan are great.

4:35 PM  
Blogger barrylane said...

I saw the film when I was twelve and the only element I thought, at that time, outstanding, was Ken Tobey. Always looked for him but seldom found him in anything worthy. In Louis' last starring film part, Morey Bernstein in The Search For Bridey Murphy, Ken played Teresa Wright's husband. It was an okay part, but he should have been at or near the top billed cast in many things, not just lower case science fiction.

7:25 PM  
Blogger Margot Shelby said...

I agree with Barry. Tobey was also in Down Three Dark Streets and another fun sic-fi, It Came From Beneath the Sea.

8:25 AM  
Blogger Seth said...

I really enjoyed THE THING... when it was on TCM a few months ago. In addition to the reasons mentioned, I was also thrilled to see Paul Frees and George Fenneman, both of whom I love from old time radio. I'm disappointed that the Blu-ray isn't currently on the WB website and so not available for the "4 for $44" sale that just launched.

I too like Tobey in IT CAME FROM BENEATH... and THE BEAST..., as well as his work for Disney, which included THE GREAT LOCOMOTIVE CHASE and two different roles in the Davy Crockett miniseries.

7:32 PM  
Blogger Vulnavia Morbius said...

It's a shame that this film has largely been eclipsed by the John Carpenter remake. I hadn't seen it for years before watching it on Filmstruck a few months before the end, and I was pleasantly surprised to find that it was even better than my long ago opinion from when I was a kid. The dialogue sparkles, and it's a masterclass in the way Hawks (through Nyby or not) created communities of people in the way he blocked his actors. I didn't know about any of that when I saw it as a kid, but on rewatching it, I can't believe that anyone ever thought this was directed by someone other than Hawks. There's a direct line of descent from Only Angels Have Wings to this. I love it.

Joe Dante, who knew a thing or two about classic sci fi films, made Kenneth Tobey a part of his repertory company. He had a pretty good sense of humor about it.

7:17 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

It's great to hear from other fans of this wonderful film!

It's particularly wonderful that so many of us admire Kenneth Tobey. Margot, I wish he'd been in *all* of DOWN THREE DARK STREETS!! LOL. Seth, I need to check out his work for Disney, thanks for the reminder!

Thanks to you all for celebrating this film and its lead actor. I hope many, many people will enjoy this fantastic new Blu-ray!

Best wishes,

2:48 PM  

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