Return of the Jedi is not the only movie celebrating an Anniversary today.. Lets go back 60 years to the date of May the 25th 1953. Universal releases one of it’s first big sci-fi films. “It Came from Outer Space” The film is directed by the incredible Jack Arnold who brought us the creature from the Black Lagoon in 1954, Tarantula in 1955, and Was a big contributor to the early episodes of Gilligan’s Island. This movie is very unique in the fact that it was based on a Ray Bradbury story and is played off very seriously in it’s tone and visual style. The monster a hideous ethereal creature that we both see as it terrorizes it’s victims as well as from it’s liquidy point of view. This is an early alien invasion masterpiece that set the stage for more of it’s kind to follow. Lots of fun and I highly recommend it if you have not already.. below are some plot and production notes from Wikipedia.
An Author and amateur astronomer John Putnam (Carlson) and schoolteacher Ellen Fields (Rush) watch a meteorite crash near the small town of Sand Rock, Arizona. After visiting the crash site, John notices a strange object in the crater and believes that it wasn’t a meteorite that crashed after all, but an alien spaceship. After a landslide covers the mysterious craft, John’s story is ridiculed by the townspeople, sheriff (Drake), and local media.
Even Ellen is unsure of what to believe, but agrees to assist John in his investigation. Over the next several days, a number of local people disappear. A few return but they seem distant and dazed. Eventually, Sheriff Warren becomes convinced that a meteorite wasn’t involved and he organizes a posse to hunt down the invaders. Alone, John hopes to reach a peaceful solution, so he goes into a mine which he hopes will lead him to the buried spacecraft and its occupants.
It transpires that the aliens are benign beings whose spacecraft crashed because of malfunctioning components. They planned to stay on Earth just long enough to replace the parts, and then to continue their voyage. Whilst the aliens true appearance resembles a large one-eyed jelly-like being that glides over the ground, leaving a glistening trail, they are also able to shape shift. To allow themselves to move freely in human society to collect the parts they need to repair their ship, they subsequently kidnap and take the form of some of the local townspeople. However, they are unable to reproduce the townspeople’s personalities, leading to suspicion, and eventually the deaths of two of the alien crew members. After John Putnam manages to seal them off in an abandoned mine to protect them from the advancing posse, and to give them time to repair their ship, they do so and leave, but not before releasing all of the missing townspeople unharmed.
The screenplay was by Harry Essex, with input by Jack Arnold, and was derived from an original screen treatment by Ray Bradbury (although it is said Ray Bradbury wrote the original screenplay and Harry Essex merely changed the dialogue and took the credit). Unusual among sci-fi films of the day, the alien “invaders” were portrayed as creatures without malicious intent. The film has been interpreted[who?] as a metaphorical refutation of supposedly xenophobic attitudes and ideology of the Cold War.
“I wanted to treat the invaders as beings who were not dangerous, and that was very unusual”, Bradbury said. He offered two outlines to the studio, one with malicious aliens, the other with benign aliens. “The studio picked the right concept, and I stayed on.” He has called the movie “a good film. Some parts of it are quite nice.”
In 2004, Bradbury published four versions of his screen treatment for the movie as a single volume, It Came From Outer Space.
The Universal make-up department submitted two alien designs for consideration by the studio executives. The design that was rejected was saved and then later used as the Metaluna Mutant in Universal’s This Island Earth (1955). The special effects created for the spacecraft in flight consisted of a wire-mounted iron ball, with hollowed out ‘windows’, and ignited magnesium inside. The Arizona setting and the telephone lineman occupation of two of the characters are elements from Bradbury’s younger life, when his father moved the family to Tucson.
Urban legend has it that an extra in an army corporal’s uniform at the “meteor” crash site is comedy writer-performer Morey Amsterdam. While the briefly glimpsed man does indeed resemble Amsterdam, no hard evidence (e.g., cast call bureau records, interviews with Amsterdam) has ever confirmed it is actually him. The most recent of Universal’s 2002 DVD release of the movie comes with a documentary, “The Universe According to Universal,” written and directed by David J. Skal, and an audio commentary by Tom Weaver, in which Weaver also notes the similarity of Morey Amsterdam.