The Thing from Another World (1951) Poster


Scotty mentions being at the execution of Ruth Snyder and Judd Gray. This is a real case. The couple were tried for and convicted of the murder of Snyder's husband in 1927 and were executed in New York by the electric chair.
The scene in which The Thing is doused with kerosene and set ablaze is believed to be the first full body burn accomplished by a stunt man.
The famous scene when the crew formed a ring around the flying saucer frozen in the ice, was actually filmed at the RKO Ranch in the San Fernando Valley in 100-degree weather.
When Scotty mentions having attended the 1928 execution of Ruth Snyder and Judd Grey, another character asks him if he was able to get a picture of it. Scotty answers, "No, they didn't allow cameras, but one guy . . . ". He is interrupted by the Thing's approach before he can finish the sentence. Scotty is referring to Chicago Tribune photographer Tom Howard, who smuggled a miniature camera into the execution chamber strapped to his ankle and was able to take a famous photograph of Snyder's final moments in the electric chair.
James Arness reportedly regarded his role as so embarrassing that he didn't attend the premiere.
Veteran stunt man Tom Steele replaced James Arness in the fire scene. Steele wore an asbestos suit with a special fiberglass helmet with an oxygen supply underneath. He used a 100% oxygen supply which was highly combustible. It was pure luck he didn't burn his lungs while breathing in the mixture.
Partly filmed in Glacier National Park and at a Los Angeles ice storage plant.
Dwarf actor Billy Curtis played the smaller version of "The Thing" during the creature's final scene.
This film was based on the short story "Who Goes There?" by Don A. Stuart. The credits on this film list the author by his real name, the science fiction editor/writer John W. Campbell Jr.
When one character is asked if he knows how to use a Very pistol his response is, "I saw Gary Cooper in Sergeant York (1941)". He then proceeds to lick his finger and run it along the gun sight like York does throughout the film. "Sergeant York" was also directed by Howard Hawks.
Close-ups of "The Thing" were removed. It was felt that the make-up could not hold up to close scrutiny. However, the lack of close-ups gave the creature a more mysterious quality.
According to make-up artist Lee Greenway, he took James Arness in his car to the home of producer Howard Hawks to show off the make up for the Thing. After months of frustration, Hawks told Greenway to put a Frankenstein (1931) type of headpiece on Arness.
Cost of the "Thing": $40,000. That would be equivalent to $370,000 in 2015 after adjusting for inflation.
Directors Ridley Scott, John Frankenheimer, Tobe Hooper and John Carpenter, who remade "The Thing," all cited the movie as a key influential film in their lives.
James Arness complained that his "Thing" costume made him look like a giant carrot.
The film takes place from November 2 to November 3, 1950.
Howard Hawks asked the US Air Force for assistance in making the film. He was refused because the top brass felt that such cooperation would compromise the U.S. government's official stance that UFOs didn't exist.
Originally, it was intended to make the creature a shape-changer as in the novel, but the limited budget forced the film makers to drop the idea. Early conceptual sketches depict a very plant-like looking creature with one of its limbs seemingly undergoing a transformation into a human hand.
It is generally believed that Howard Hawks took over direction during production, and it has always been acknowledged by director Christian Nyby that Hawks was the guiding hand. However, in an interview James Arness said that while Hawks spent a lot of time on the set, it was Nyby who actually directed the picture, not Hawks.
When producer Howard Hawks attempted to get insurance for the creature, five insurance companies turned him down because "The Thing" was to be frozen in a block of ice, hacked by axes, attacked by dogs, lit on fire, and electrocuted.
The opening credits are unusual for its time in that they don't list a single member of the cast.
It took makeup artist Lee Greenway five months and 18 sculptures of the creature before he came up with a design that satisfied producer Howard Hawks.
This was the first of only two films made by Howard Hawks' own production company, Winchester Pictures Corporation. Winchester was Hawks' middle name.
It is believed that Ben Hecht and William Faulkner, both good friends of producer Howard Hawks, contributed to the script. However, long-standing rumors that Orson Welles contributed to the dialog are believed to be untrue.
Charles Lederer's original script featured an inhuman-looking creature looking almost exactly like the novel's creature in its original form (blue-skinned, with three red eyes, a sucker mouth and stringy hair), but the budget resulted in a simpler-looking alien. Allegedly, test footage was shot featuring a creature with the earlier alien design, played by a one-legged man.
When Barnes is left to guard The Thing in the block of ice, he nervously whistles "Bury me not on the lone prairie ".
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As opposed to that interview with James Arness, the film's star Kenneth Tobey has maintained in many interviews that it was indeed Hawks who directed the film. Tobey said that he had worked with Nyby after this film on many occasions and he was a fine director, but Hawks did call the shots on most of the film.
When they are all flying out to the crash site for the first time, they see where the craft has landed and discuss it. It touched down, skidded and then came to stop and melted through the ice. They show a long shot of the skid and where it finally stopped. If you slow motion the film or stop it, it reveals the following: At the beginning of the skid, the touchdown point, there is what looks like a guy in a hat knelt down by a machine of some sort. That could be the ice cutting machine that made the entire etching for the scene.
At about 55 minutes there's a long shot of the camp with the nose of the C-47 in the foreground. You can see engine warmers attached by hoses, and emblazoned on the nose of the plane is a hula dancer and the name "Tropical Tilly," an obvious irony for an Alaska-based aircraft.
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Although they are not credited, some well-known faces and voices appear in the movie. John Dierkes played in several John Ford / John Wayne westerns, George Fenneman was Groucho Marx's announcer and foil for many years on TV, and everyone's favorite "disembodied voice", Paul Frees, is one of the scientists (and makes it to the end of the picture).
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In an interview on NPR's "Fresh Air" with Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert, when asked about the most scared they'd ever been at the movies, Ebert indicated that this film scared him to death, especially the scene where they incinerated the "Thing".
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Two months prior to principal photography, James Arness was brought in during the design and development of the makeup.
The difference of opinion between Kenneth Tobey and James Arness as to who actually directed the film is not a surprise. Directors very often had their assistants direct the "action" sequences so that they could focus their time on the speaking roles, where most of the "important" portions of the film were centered. Assistant directors generally were assigned to get multiple takes of action sequences which the directors would then be able to see with a more objective eye.
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Although it has frequently been derided by science-fiction purists for being an overly-loose adaptation of the original John W. Campbell novella, it actually hews quite closely to the first six chapters of the original story. Nearly all the borrowings from the novella that recur in the movie, including the discovery of the flying saucer through the electromagnetic anomaly it makes and its accidental destruction through the use of thermite charges, the thawing of the creature, the suggestion that it reads minds, and its death in the electrical trap, come from these first few chapters.
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John Wayne was offered the lead in the TV series Gunsmoke (1955). He turned it down but recommended James Arness. The first episode of the series features an introduction by Wayne, who endorses Arness. Ironically, Arness had been wounded while fighting in the US Army during World War II--hit by machine-gun fire during the landings at Anzio--and had a limp; he found it difficult to film long scenes in the saddle.
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Finnish censorship certificate # 34699 delivered on 4-10-1951.
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