Scientists and American Air Force officials fend off a bloodthirsty alien organism while at a remote arctic outpost.

Directors:

Christian Nyby, Howard Hawks (uncredited)

Writers:

Charles Lederer (screenplay), John W. Campbell Jr. (based on the story "Who Goes There?" by)
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Margaret Sheridan ... Nikki Nicholson
Kenneth Tobey ... Capt. Patrick Hendry
Robert Cornthwaite ... Dr. Arthur Carrington
Douglas Spencer ... Ned Scott
James Young ... Lt. Eddie Dykes
Dewey Martin ... Crew Chief Bob
Robert Nichols Robert Nichols ... Lt. Ken Erickson / Lt. Ken (Mac) MacPherson
William Self William Self ... Cpl. Barnes
Eduard Franz ... Dr. Stern
Sally Creighton Sally Creighton ... Mrs. Chapman
James Arness ... 'The Thing'
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Storyline

Scientists at an Arctic research station discover a spacecraft buried in the ice. Upon closer examination, they discover the frozen pilot. All hell breaks loose when they take him back to their station and he is accidentally thawed out! Written by KC Hunt <khunt@eng.morgan.edu>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

No One In This World Can Match The Menace Of "The Thing" (1957 re-release) See more »

Genres:

Horror | Sci-Fi

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The film takes place from November 2 to November 3, 1950. See more »

Goofs

Early in the film airman Barnes is referred to as Corporal. Toward the middle of the film, he is called Sergeant. See more »

Quotes

Dr. Arthur Carrington: [Addressing Captain Hendry, arguing against the plan to destroy the alien creature] You're doing more than breaking Army orders, you're robbing science of the greatest secret that's ever come to it. Knowledge is more important than life, captain. We've only one excuse for existence: to think, to find out, to learn! It doesn't matter what happens to us. Nothing matters except our thinking. We've fought our way into Nature, we've split the atom... We owe it to the brain of our species to stay here...
[...]
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Crazy Credits

Only technical and production credits precede the film, no acting credits. See more »

Alternate Versions

A colorized version was released on VHS in 1989 by Turner Home Entertainment as an "RKO Color Classic". See more »

Connections

Referenced in The Twilight Zone: 8 (2020) See more »

Soundtracks

The Dying Cowboy aka Bury Me Not on the Lone Prairie
(uncredited)
Traditional
Portion whistled by William Self
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User Reviews

 
"An intellectual carrot...the mind boggles."
3 November 2014 | by Hey_SwedenSee all my reviews

Classic, wonderful sci-fi / horror feature, a none too faithful adaptation of the John W. Campbell, Jr. short story "Who Goes There?". In this instance, the idea of the alien entity being a monstrosity that can imitate other life forms is jettisoned, in favour of making the creature basically like the Frankenstein monster. It's a super vegetable that requires blood for sustenance, and it makes life very tense for the scientists and military personnel at an isolated Arctic outpost when it's thawed from an icy imprisonment.

With an intrepid hero in the form of 1950s icon Kenneth Tobey on hand, it's a guarantee that "The Thing from Another World" is going to be a good time. It was a fairly odd choice of material for the producer Howard Hawks, who fills the story with overlapping dialogue and a sense of camaraderie among the various protagonists. Unlike the 1982 version, where the characters had the means to destroy the creature but first had to *identify* who the creature was, our cast here have to improvise their survival.

While any genre fan such as this viewer, who'd been brought up on the 1982 John Carpenter film, may be more inclined to favour that brand of horror, this is still very stylish fun. Hawks's editor Christian Nyby gets the directing credit, but it's generally believed that Hawks was pretty much in control of things. The score by Dimitri Tiomkin, utilizing the theremin, is suitably eerie. There are solid shocks, moments of suspense, and atmosphere along the way, as well as a lively finish.

This is a film very much of its time, with our military characters very much a dependable bunch of heroes, and the scientists (most of them) treated as highly suspect, especially the misguided Dr. Carrington, played delightfully by Robert Cornthwaite.

A little too much time is devoted to the romantic subplot with Captain Hendry and his love interest (Margaret Sheridan), but the actors couldn't be more engaging. Tobey, Sheridan, and Cornthwaite are extremely well supported by a strong ensemble: Douglas Spencer as annoying newspaperman Scotty (who has the honour of uttering the memorable closing monologue), James Young, Dewey Martin, Robert Nichols, William Self, Eduard Franz, Nicholas Byron, John Dierkes, George Fenneman, Paul Frees, David McMahon, and Norbert Schiller. A young James Arness, in his pre-'Gunsmoke' days, has great presence as The Thing.

There are images here so striking that Carpenter was wise to pay homage to them in his film: the line of men encircling the buried UFO, and the sight of the burning creature crashing through the building into the snow.

It's definitely a different beast, in more ways than one, than what we would see 31 years later, but it's solid entertainment for its own very good reasons.

Eight out of 10.


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Frequently Asked Questions

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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

7 April 1951 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Thing See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$1,600,000 (estimated)
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Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (re-issue) | (original US 16 mm television syndication prints)

Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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