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When Worlds Collide (1951)

 -  Family | Sci-Fi  -  August 1951 (USA)
6.8
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Ratings: 6.8/10 from 4,581 users  
Reviews: 94 user | 45 critic

As a new star and planet hurtle toward a doomed Earth, a small group of survivalists frantically work to complete the rocket which will take them to their new home.

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(screenplay), (novel), 1 more credit »
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Title: When Worlds Collide (1951)

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Won 1 Oscar. Another 1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Richard Derr ...
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...
...
Rachel Ames ...
Julie Cummings (as Judith Ames)
Stephen Chase ...
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...
Sandro Giglio ...
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Storyline

David Randall is a carefree ladies man and skilled pilot who finds he has been let in on the greatest and most terrible secret in the world when he is paid to deliver some mysterious pictures from one eminent astronomer to another. The recipient, Dr. Hendron, confirms the awful findings of the sender: the star Bellus will collide with Earth and wipe out all of humanity. Despite widespread disbelief, two philanthropists give Dr. Hendron some of the money he needs to build a rocket ship that will, at least theoretically, take them to Zyra, a planet which is orbiting Bellus which may or may not be habitable for humans. The rest of the money comes from Sydney Stanton, a wheelchair-bound old man, who insists he come along, despite the severe limitations on the number of passengers and amount of cargo. Meanwhile, as doomsday approaches, Randall is surprised to find himself in a love triangle with Dr. Hendron's daughter and her fiancé. Humanity is in peril, and only a modern-day Noah's ark, ... Written by J. Spurlin

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

Planets destroy earth! See more »

Genres:

Family | Sci-Fi

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

| | |

Release Date:

August 1951 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Cuando los mundos chocan  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Box Office

Budget:

$936,000 (estimated)
 »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Recording)

Color:

(Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

George Pal wanted to film the novel's sequel, "After Worlds Collide," which depicted the struggle of human survivors on the alien planet. However, the failure of his film Conquest of Space (1955) badly damaged his career and the sequel was never made. See more »

Goofs

When the main characters are gathered in Hendron's office awaiting the passing of Zyra, Joyce is seated in a chair. As the earthquake starts, she rises and runs across the room to Dave Randall. A short time later, in a shot from another angle, she's seated again then rises and runs to Randall a second time. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Narrator: [spoken over a shot of outer space] Needles in a heavenly haystack. There are more stars in the heavens than there are human beings on Earth. Through telescopes men of science constantly search the infinitesimal corners of our solar system seeking new discoveries, hoping to better understand the laws of the Universe. Observatories dedicated to the study of astronomy are set in high and remote places, but there is none more remote than Mt. Kenna Observatory in this part of South ...
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Connections

Referenced in The H.G. Wells Legacy (2005) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

The book was much better!
15 November 2002 | by (Boulder, CO) – See all my reviews

I like George Pal's movies including this one, but I have to be honest and say that the novel on which this film is based is far, far superior. That having been said, however, let me hasten to add that "When Worlds Collide" is an enjoyable movie. The special effects of a half-century ago are still impressive, and the film's commentary on human nature is rather incisive. On the science and technology side of the ledger, however, the movie is seriously lacking, and the book does a much better job of discussing the technical difficulties involved in any kind of evacuation from Earth and the reseeding of the human race on another planet. Also, the collision between Earth and the star Bellus is a complete disappointment.

John Hoyt's performance as self-seeking and cynical billionaire Sidney Stanton is the best in the movie. He doesn't overplay the part, but mixes the right proportion of facial gestures and acidic voice inflection to give his wheelchair-bound character a completely believable profile. He is the real star of the movie. The other performances are adequate, but lack the depth of Hoyt's. The movie could have used another thirty minutes to fully develop both the storyline and the other characters because a theme like this needs two hours or so to fulfill itself.

Many have criticized the Disney-like final scene as the survivors of Earth's end walk onto the soil of the new world Zyra. To be fair to Pal, the production was rushed at the end to meet budget costs and what was put forward was the best that could be done in a limited time. Pal also intended to film a sequel "After Worlds Collide", in line with what the book had, to continue the story. Unfortunately, Paramount Pictures scotched that, and no sequel was ever made. Pal carried that disappointment to his grave.

I'd like to see "When Worlds Collide" made into a movie again. Despite "Deep Impact" and other movies like it, "When Worlds Collide" stands as the ultimate disaster movie, and with today's technology, a much better version than George Pal's could be made. A sequel should also be done as was the case with the original book to bring the story to a logical conclusion. For now, however, all we have is the 1951 film, and it still holds up well and will reward viewers who appreciate thrilling adventure.


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