Scientists and American Air Force officials fend off a bloodthirsty alien organism while at a remote arctic outpost.Scientists and American Air Force officials fend off a bloodthirsty alien organism while at a remote arctic outpost.Scientists and American Air Force officials fend off a bloodthirsty alien organism while at a remote arctic outpost.
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.
- Nov 3, 2014