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This movie rocks!
Okay, I know it's dated. know what?? I Don't care! This kind of movie making would put half the people in Hollywood out of work today. Maybe that's not such a bad thing. They did it right in the early days. They had their priorities right:
Then Special effects
Seems simple, doesn't it? How come they can't get it right today? (with few exceptions, of course). Nope, today it's Special effects, stars, then story.... in fact, even the stories aren't original!!!
This sums up why I like this movie so much and many like it from the same era. They're exciting, fun, and captivating. The kind of movie that leaves you thinking, dreaming, having nightmares, all in the name of fun. You're left dreaming of what it would be like, how you'd react, what you'd do. You'd sit and ponder about a new life on a new planet. And not once would the level of special effects tarnish your view of this gem.
When was the last time you felt that way coming out of a modern movie? My guess is a lonnnnnng time. There are very few exceptions today. The special effects in movies like "Worlds" was icing on the cake... BUT IT WAS THE CAKE THAT MATTERED! Today, it's all icing and the cake can't support it (crappy icing, in fact!!)
Eat your cake and have it too! Watch "When Worlds Collide"!
Considering when the film was made, it far surpasses action-packed,
bloated-FX monstrosities like INDEPENDENCE DAY and ARMAGEDDON. George Pal
gives us a convincing story with good FX. The theme of the plot is unusually
profound for a sci-fi film, and it is handled with both humor and
Altruism and selfishness vie in the face of doomsday as the full range of human nature is displayed by a capable cast. Despite what may appear now to be a few creaky bits of movie magic, this film has a punch to it that many of the slicker films lack. It has stood the test of a half-century and is still touching and enjoyable.
"THERE ARE MORE STARS IN THE HEAVENS THAN PEOPLE ON EARTH!" a
portentous voice-over intones amidst the background of a celestial
choir. And with that very important fact established for those in the
audience that might actually believe otherwise, we're off and running.
Some movies are so loopy they're just plain fun to watch no matter how
absurd they are. And with an opening like the one described you know
this George Pal gem is going to be a hoot. "When Worlds Collide" was
Pal's follow-up to his successful "Destination Moon" which along with
"Rocketship-XM" launched the Golden Age of fifties sci-fi. It was a
simpler time, an era in science-fiction films when all that was
required for space travel was to "Strap yourselves in!" and "contract
your muscles!" When astronauts wore leather flight jackets instead of
space suits, and were always on the make for a beautiful pair of gams,
(i.e. women) when all scientists smoked pipes and wore goatees, (that's
how you knew they were intelligent) and were completely absorbed in
their ivory tower research, oblivious to everything including at times
the safety of the world. Worse whenever some dangerous creature was
running amok their response to stopping it was invariably, "It
shouldn't be destroyed, it should be studied!" or "It's so much wiser
than us, we can learn so much!" It was an era when a woman wasn't
considered complete without a man in her life, and even if she was a
brilliant astrophysicist, all she really needed to know (as every man
knew) was how to make a decent pot of coffee, when radiation was the
answer to any problem, as in "Beast from 20,000 Fathoms" or was the
reason for every problem like the giant ants in "Them!" Well, with the
exception of extraterrestrials, radiation and giant insects, "When
Worlds Collide" has all this and more!
This film is so ripe some enterprising filmmaker could do a parody of it, except it's hard to imagine how it could be done better. Eminent astronomer, Dr. Emery Bronson, (pipe smoking and goateed) has made a terrible discovery from his remote ivory tower observatory in South Africa. Two "heavenly bodies" are on a collision course with Earth. One, called Zyra will pass close enough to wreak havoc on land and sea, while the other, called Bellus will actually strike the planet and destroy it days later. "Money doesn't mean anything now. Time is all that matters!" So the pertinent, secret data must be taken at once to Professor Hendron in New York for corroboration on the Differential Analyzer, a fifties version of the computer. Enter Dave Randall, a leather flight jacket wearing pilot-soon-to-be-astronaut. Dave is always on the make for a beautiful pair of gams sort of guy, and blissfully unaware of the bad news he is carrying. At the airport Professor Hendron's daughter Joyce, played with wonderful vapidity by Barbara Rush awaits him. A newspaperman has offered Randall $5,000.00 for the secret of the little black box handcuffed to him. But Dave takes one look at Joyce and like a starving man eyeing a sirloin steak tells the reporter, "No thanks, I'm working on a better offer!" With the clock ticking on humanity they decide to take a taxi through the New York traffic to the breathlessly waiting professor. Along the way Randall manages to coax out of the trusting Joyce, who evidently never heard the expression, "loose lips sink ships" that the end of the world is upon them. Rush exclaims, "I'm frightened!" And then in one of the film's choice bits, slowly faces the camera and exclaims deadpan, "You see, I haven't the courage to face the end of the world!" The music swells, Randall squirms as if he just sat in something smelly left behind by a pet, slow fade out.
Most of the film deals with the construction of the rocket-ship, a latter day Noah's Ark, which will carry 44 individuals picked by lottery to make a new home on Zyra. It's their hope to build a bright shining new white world-literally for there is nary a single member of a minority group to be found among them. But money is needed for the project and since the Federal Government can't be bothered with saving humanity, wealthy industrialist Sidney Stanton, supplies that-provided he has a seat reserved aboard. "I think you're all crackpots!" he hisses. "Build it!" John Hoyt, deliciously nasty as the wheelchair bound Stanton steals the film. The cheesy but fun special effects kick into high gear with the approach of Zyra. Tidal waves strike New York, earthquakes rock the planet, and volcanoes erupt while the celestial choir swells yet again as a solemn voice-over intones, "Never has humanity felt so close to God!" Hendron reproaches Stanton with, "Not your sort of hypocritical prayer but the kind that come from deep inside a man!" after the latter has gunned down his wormy manservant Ferris who made the mistake of telling his employer he was an "Easy man to hate!" Things go from bad to worse when those who lost the lottery decide to riot. The good news is that Joyce realizes she loves Dave, and best of all he gets to go along and fly the craft to Zyra. Alone with Joyce days before take off and the end of the world, he remarks with all the gravity and emotion of a man suffering from acute gastric discomfort, "The last sunrise!" Joyce tries to get him to look on the bright side, "The same sun will rise again on the new world!" she says, not the least bit distressed that several billion people are about to have their lives snuffed out in a cataclysm of cosmic proportions. Oh well, guess she'll make a pot of coffee.
Everything turns out "alright" in the end-all things considered. Cue celestial choir, fade out. "When Worlds Collide" is a fun, goofy, glorious science-fiction postcard from the early fifties.
Astronomers discover two planets coming Earth's way that will destroy our planet. Time is needed to do the unthinkable: create a rocket ship that will fly 40 or so people to one of the planets passing by to keep the legacy of mankind alive. This is an innovative, thought-provoking science fiction film. Little action is in the movie. It could have focused on the despair and panic people would have endured with such news, but instead the film, deftly directed by Rudolph Mate, focuses on the group of scientists and people involved trying desperately to fight against their greatest enemy - time. Calendars have pages ripped off showing the urgency. Sure, the science and logic in some of the physics of the ship are a bit ludicrous, but everything is presented in a very believable manner. Acting leads Richard Derr and Barbara Rush do workmanlike jobs while supporting players Larry Keating, Hayden Rourke, John Hoyt and Frank Cady(Sam Drucker from Green Acres) really give the film some life. Most importantly the film has you thinking about its premise well after having seen it. What would our world do with such news? How would we determine who would go? What would they find once they got there? Many scenes in the film stand out: the flooded vision of New York City with skyscraper tips jutting out of the water and the last scene of a group of space pilgrims landing on a new home for humankind surveying their new world with wide-eyed optimism, hope, and fascination. This is a sci-fi gem; one not to be missed.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Put this up against its 1998 re-build DEEP IMPACT and its easy to pick the
classic - It ain't Morgan Freeman let me tell ya!
This was a truly marvellous film, brim-full of original ideas and for its day, excellent FX. The people LOOKED like there was an impending tragedy about to take-out life on earth. The film was a study of individuals under stress, corruption, bravery, acceptance of the inevitable. It was also about the value and sanctity of human life. When the mighty rocket ship took off down that marvellous launch ramp at the very last second with its human cargo, all mankind's history and most everything needed to start up life from scratch, you wanted to cheer for them, be up there with them - it WAS after all simply the greatest adventure possible!
Also, what sets it apart from just about every other "disaster" flick, there are no heroics, no last minute salvation. The fulltime scoreline read: Comet 1 Earth NIL. I liked that, we're talking realism here!
So what if the final shot on the new planet looked like a pretty scene a group of year five students might have painted? The point had been made and George Pal had made one of the greatest scifi classics ever.
It still is!
When I was younger, this was one science fiction film that definitely made an impression on me. This was one of those where I actually was scared that one day my world would come to an end. However, as I got older I realized that this was just a movie, but still it is one of the best genre films of its era. Sure, it has its flaws (especially the painted background at the end), but still it is a film that was a product of its time and it will always be one of my favorites.
First, this is a nice-looking film with a good DVD transfer. Seeing an
early '50s sci-fi film Technicolor is nice.
Also, having just watched - I'm not kidding - "Plan 9 From Outer Space" and "Invaders From Mars," this George Pal film looked like multi-million dollar Oscar winner in comparison. Except for the ending scene, the special-effects were passable, the acting was good and the dialog pretty realistic. The story plausible? Of course not, but what they did know of space travel in 1951? Hell, we didn't send a man on the moon until almost 20 years after this movie. No, this is not one of those popcorn flicks that "is so bad, it's good" or just plaint stink. No, this movie is just good......period....even today, almost 57 years later!.
This was a no-nonsense survival story without an overdone corny romance, no stupid or obnoxious kids nor goofy-looking adults. It had a solid reverence for God and to science at the same time, a realistic portrayal of people under stress and how they would react knowing their world was coming to end. For a mostly talky film, it moved fast with few, if any lulls.
John Hoyt, who plays the wheelchair-bound millionaire "Sydney Stanton," may not be a "name" actor but he's very good. Check his resume: it's awesome. The man was in about every good television show for decades. The man could act. So did the rest of this cast.
Overall, this "modern" Noah's Ark story was a good one, and far, far better than your normal sci-fi flicks from the time period. Well done!
I am partial to older movies such as "When Worlds Collide,"
because the acting and limited technology were more crucial to
making an interesting movie. You have to try to place yourself in
the movie's time period and in the characters' environment before
Having done so, I believe this movie is a "thumbs-up" for carrying
out a lengthy story line in just 86 minutes. The actors all made up
for the absence of modern, computer-generated graphics and
second-class props, by today's standards. And they did a good job
of bringing to life the human problems and issues that would arise
in similar situations if their predicament happened today.
I first saw this movie in 1960 at the age of six. It blew me away
then. And today, I still enjoy watching it, but I have to remind myself
about my previous comments and put myself back in the movie's
This is a good Sci-fi movie for its time. Sit back, grab a bucket of
popcorn and a soda, and go back to the early 1950s if you can.
Then let the movie do the rest.
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.
This is an often overlooked sci-fi movie from the 50s--being not nearly
as famous as the excellent Day the Earth Stood Still or Invasion of the
Body Snatchers. Despite this, it is still one of the best ones of its
era. The basic story is good, but not great. What sets it apart are the
characters within it and the insight into human nature it gives you.
This makes the film very allegorical and makes you think. Many of the
characters, such as the leads, rise to the occasion and only think of
saving others when it appears most life on Earth will be destroyed.
Then, there are the jerks who also show their true colors--such as the
crowd who try to storm the space ship bound for a safe new world, and
especially the evil old financier who who wants to save his own skin
and could care less about others. John Hoyt plays this role beautifully
and it is very, very much like the character C. Montgomery Burns from
Oh, and lest I forget, for 1951, the special effects are absolutely amazing. Aside from a pretty flat-looking matte painting used at the end, the space ship effects and flood effects were just terrific and earned this movie a well-deserved Oscar.
This is a great sci-fi film that all fans of the genre need to see.
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