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Well, I like this movie, and I don't care what the critics say. It's a
low-budget "Monolith Monsters" in reverse, sort of. Unlike the
Monoliths that grow explosively when wet, the rocks in NTWE explode
Yes, the props and sets are cheesy sometimes (the "Pressure Photometer" could use a few squirts of oil), but it's an interesting concept that makes an attempt to offer halfway logical scientific reasons for its premise, unlike the pure nonsense of more contemporary movies like "Independence Day", in which any appearance of logical reasoning is thrown out the window.
Unfortunately, there appears to have never been a studio release of this movie, either on VHS or DVD. Currently, one can find both formats on ebay, but they all seem to be copies of the same TV broadcast.
If you agree with me that this is a movie worth watching, post a reply on the Message Board (there's a link near the bottom of the NTWE main page) and let me know that I'm not alone.
If you're looking at the reviews for Night the World Exploded, you are
probably already a hopeless 50's sci-fi addict. But it's OK, you're in
This is actually a pretty engaging film that may hold up to some repeated viewings. Although the props and sets are not as good as they could be, they still support a very interesting story with good production values and some very good B movie acting.
I would actually recommend this film above The Unknown Terror and Flame Barrier. These two are probably better films with bigger budgets but have a very boring script with little to no action.
Also, if you're into 'End of the World' flicks, don't miss Crack In The World - one of the best!!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
As an SF nut from earliest childhood, the Fifties was a frustrating
period for me. Most of the SF films released in the UK were given 'A'
or 'X' certificates, so I could see the posters and the trailers, but
not the pictures themselves. The Night the World Exploded was one of
the few exceptions.
I saw it on its original release and I never forgot my excitement at watching an actual science fiction movie at last. The mysteriously swelling black rocks, like ticking time bombs, had me glued to my seat whenever they appeared.
Then the movie disappeared. It never showed on UK TV and the video revolution seemed to pass it by. Now, finally, it has re-emerged as part of the Columbia Classics series and another small segment of my childhood has been restored to me.
Its premise is more intriguing than most science fiction 'B' movies of the era and the scientific gobbledygook is slightly more convincing. The story is not particularly well thought-out and has some conspicuous padding but it mostly cracks along at an acceptable pace. It looks a lot more expensive than it really was, because of the judicious use of stock footage. This was unusually well-selected, with generally good print quality that blends well with the principal photography. A couple of the devastation scenes are clearly just demolition work, and the voice-over narrator has his work cut out justifying the inclusion of some WW2 bombing footage, but it impressed the hell out me when I was 9.
What didn't impress me, I am sad to report, was one of the movie's greatest assets - the ever adorable Kathryn Grant. Interestingly, she seems to get top billing, ahead of William Leslie: and why not?
However, the biggest bonus is that the DVD print is immaculate. It is probably better than the one I saw in 1957. The movie still exists in all its original glory.
Take a bow, Columbia Classics!
The Night the World Exploded is no masterpiece, but I am glad that it is finally back in my life.
Entertaining typical 50's sci-fi low budget offering with slightly above
average plot line for the time.
However, particularly amusing are scenes in the military command aircraft which used card tables and folding chairs in front of mock-up aircraft porthole windows.
I'm a fan of science fiction, including the 50s variety. I watched "The
Night the World Exploded" in a clean widescreen print, and that is a
This picture has a number of assets. There is excellent stock footage of disasters that are nicely integrated into the film. There is Kathyrn Grant, who plays a woman determined to be as active in risky endeavors as any male. Tris Coffin and Raymond Greenleaf provide competent b-movie support. The script comes up to sci-fi standards in attempting to make the events plausible. There are some good scenes of the cause of the disaster, which is a new element that combines with nitrogen when dry, creating an explosive material.
It's a reasonably entertaining show for us sci-fi fans, even if the script at times seems cobbled together or slows down too much, even if the lead actor (Leslie) seems too ill at ease, even if there seems to be very little chemistry between him and Grant, and even if the picture has to work at generating suspense.
Dr David Conway shows his assistant Laura " Hutch " Hutchinson a new
machine that predicts Earthquakes . This machine predicts a large quake
is about to hit California in 24 hours and it does . Things go from bad
to worse as a series of violent quakes tilt the world of its axis by
three degrees and Dr Conway finds its caused by a new found element
called " one twelve " which is a highly unstable element that expands
and explodes when it becomes dry
This is nothing more than a sci-fi B movie and viewed for what it is it isn't at all bad . It's done in a documentary type way and a massive non prize for guessing this is due to the practicalities of not having a big budget rather than any stylistic imagination of director Fred Sears who does managed to make the most of what little he's got and everything races along at a tight , brisk pace . What tends to bring things is that there is a romantic subplot between Conway and his assistant Hutch who is supposed to be a ballsy independent female but as soon as there's the slightest sign of danger turns in to a blubbering girly girl in need of rescue by the male lead . Considering the period it was made in where the world was split in to two superpower camps both of whom viewed each other with mutual suspicion it's nice to see a film where the international scientific community put aside the politics of the state and work together . Some people might be put off by the lack of outlandish plot devices like aliens and the science never seems entirely credible but I've seen a lot of SF B movies from this era and this is far from being one of the worst
You might think that the explosion of the whole World, no less, could
muster some thrills and chills as Scientists race to uncover the cause
and apply their Egghead methods to stifle the upcoming Apocalypse.
Not so much in the hands of these cheap Hollywood Hacks that in the Fifties exploited Science in their Fiction and made some Really Cool Posters but some very Uncool Movies. This isn't the worst of its kind and does manage to be involving enough. Just the thought of what's at stake could put the nerves on edge.
But here just climbing down a rope is enough to make a Female Scientist freeze with fear. The cardboard sets have some visual charm and the stock disaster footage is mixed in nicely with some looking very ominous. But the Plot of the New Element and Diluvial problem solving is rather lackluster and hokey, as is the Romantic necessities. The final shot of the Lovers on an elevated Stage with a Kiss that makes Her quake is an exclamation point on the stodgy and stagy nature of what went before.
While "The Night the World Exploded" is a very low-budget film with
no-name actors, it is enjoyable. It also manages to make a ridiculous
plot seem plausible--and that is no small feat.
The film begins with a seismologist creating a new machine that would help them predict earthquakes. However, the equipment is either faulty OR the Earth is royally screwed!!! Soon, after the big quake, they discover a new element--#112. And here is where it gets crazy. There is a lot of it and the element is VERY explosive--so explosive that the planet may soon go kaboom! That is, unless they enact a crazy plan that just MIGHT work.
While this film offers few huge thrills, it works well. The miniature sets work well and the acting is good. Most importantly, the film is written well and will probably hold your attention.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I remember seeing this movie at the Simon Theater in Brenham, Texas,
when I was in the sixth grade, and am happy to say that it's held up
very well over the years.
To start with, Turner Classic Movies got a top quality print of it that looked wonderful. There were literally a few seconds where the negative had suffered slight damage, but for that element it's solid.
The story is pretty much standard issue. A very, very dedicated scientist is so immersed in his work that he doesn't realize that he's in love with his beautiful lab assistant until the third act.
Not that he isn't busy enough. A strange rock called Element 112 has begun to cause earthquakes and worse all over the globe. Unless Steps Are Taken, it will cause the destruction of our planet.
Serious spoiler: The world doesn't explode. It does come close, but that shouldn't surprise anyone.
The acting is nothing amazing, but it's not set up as an acting lab exercise. There is a plot to be dealt with briskly. Leading lady Katherine Grant was far more impressive shortly after this in a similar role in Otto Preminger's ANATOMY OF A MURDER. Strong director plus powerful screenplay equals good results for actors.
Far more interesting than the story itself is the structure of the story and the sexual politics in play here. There wasn't sufficient budget for large scale special effects, so there's lots of stock footage of natural disasters and their aftermath. More interestingly, Ms. Grant isn't just the leading lady. For a big chunk of the running time she's the only lady.
Science fiction has always been a male dominated realm. But for the entirety of the first two acts Hutch, the lab assistant played by Ms. Grant, and the character I'd call the Civil Defense Lady are the sole female players. There's a substantial roster of supporting characters, but with the exception of stock footage everyone is White and male.
Then, in the third act, disaster is creeping up on the world. The governor's wife and young daughter come to be with him, and in a huge office area we see several women working. But it takes the approach of Armageddon to allow many women into the tree house.
One of the best things about the film is that it takes care of business in one hour and four minutes. This is a sharp contrast to this summer's earnest but plodding WORLD WAR Z which so badly needed about 45 minutes trimmed from it that my index finger ached because theaters don't offer viewers a fast forward button.
At the time this came out there were presumable 111 slots on the Periodic Table of the Elements. We are now on number 118. The honor of being number 112 (they didn't retire that jersey because of the movie) goes to Copernicum, the most stable of all the isotopes.
Parents' note: Nothing disturbing in my humble opinion. Some people would be distressed because a few characters smoked. So did both of my parents. It was 1957.
A cutting edge scientist, Dr. David Conway (William Leslie) has
developed a machine that he hopes can predict when earthquakes are
going to occur. It works quite well, as we shall see, and a series of
quakes happen which get progressively worse. Conway and his loyal
assistant, Laura "Hutch" Hutchinson (Kathryn Grant), find that the
culprit responsible is a previously unknown element with very explosive
potential. The race is then on to solve the problem before the title
disaster can take place.
One might say that the budget for this modestly entertaining B picture is ultimately too low for its ambitions, but director Fred F. Sears ("Earth vs. the Flying Saucers") succeeds in crafting some tension. Much use is made of what is presumably stock footage, adding to the scope of the action (not to mention the running time, which is very short anyway). The "underground" sets and props aren't exactly convincing, but they don't distract too much from the fun. The fairly neat premise is admittedly somewhat close to that in the Universal production "The Monolith Monsters".
A decent bunch of actors does help matters. Leslie isn't terribly expressive, but he's reasonably likable, and it's very easy to watch the young Ms. Grant, who's incredibly cute. Co- starring are Tristram Coffin as the dedicated Dr. Ellis Morton, Raymond Greenleaf as the governor who learns his lesson after failing to take Conway and Morton seriously, and Paul Savage as the curious and engaging Ranger Kirk.
Passable special effects, and a rather amusing problem solving finale, help this to kill 64 minutes pleasantly.
Six out of 10.
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