When Worlds Collide (1951) Poster

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Earth No More?
BaronBl00d8 November 2004
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.
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Money to burn!!!!
Ruddfactor1 March 2002
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:

Story first

Then characters

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"!
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Good Despite its Flaws
Brian Washington20 February 2004
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.
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Outlandish budgets don't guarantee better films!
uds36 April 2002
Warning: 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!
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a wonderful sci-fi film because it ultimately looks at human nature
MartinHafer12 June 2005
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 the Simpsons!

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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For Its Genre, This Is Surprising How Good It Is - Nice Effort!
ccthemovieman-12 January 2008
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!
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Great Sci-Fi For the That Time
bbrown719 May 2003
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

making judgment.

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

time zone.

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.
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A goofy, glorious science-fiction postcard from the early fifties
GulyJimson22 June 2004
"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.
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Another gem from George Pal
vtcavuoto12 March 2006
"When Worlds Collide" was one of the first of the Sci-Fi films that ruled the 1950s. Plus,it was in color. The movie was based on the novel of the same name and if I remember correctly, there were two books-part one(which the movie is based on) and part two which describes life on the new planet. An astronomer sees a new sun and planet coming right toward earth and we have less than one year before the new sun collides with us. At first, no one believes him. After a short period of time, several countries build rockets to bring a handful of survivors to the new planet. The interior of the rocket is pretty lame by today's standards but the outside is cool-looking. The paintings are OK but the one at the very end of the film is quite obvious.The acting is good, the plot is terrific and there is a good balance of action and drama. This is a nice film to watch.
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one of the few movies i "keep" to view at least annually.
rfreem0115 August 2001
I love this movie! I loved it as a kid for the special effects (what a great rocketship! And that launch system!) As an adult, I enjoy the film for the brisk pace, plausible plot-line, wonderful character stereotypes, and I've always loved planes, rockets, sci-fi, space stuff, et al. It's also interesting in the context of the "Cold War" and the threat of nuclear annihilation. And I've never understood why Richard Derr wasn't more successful. Tall, good looking, blond with a deep voice--do I smell some studio politics? Anyway, I think this little movie is just a whole bunch of fun to watch and it's very well crafted for any era. Enjoy!
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The Sky Is Falling!
Bucs196014 December 2001
Loved this movie!......remember, this was 1951 so don't expect the computer generated special effects that we enjoy today. The roller coaster rocket ship take-off is like something from a comic book but, again, remember when this was made.....who knew about rockets to outer space? Richard Derr, whoever he was, is OK in the lead but seems a little bit laid back for someone who knows the world is going to end with a bang. In fact, most of the cast, seems rather off-hand until the very end when the chips are down and decisions are being made as to who lives and who gets to stay for the big one. There are a lot of familar faces (except for Derr) in this movie although they are mostly second leads and not "stars". Look for some walk-ons from actors on their way down and on their way up......John Ridgely who was a staple in WWII films, Kirk Alyn, Superman from the old serials, and Stuart Whitman who would go on to play some decent roles in the 60's and 70's. This film may not be "Independence Day", but it is the best of the early doomsday/futuristic movies of the time.
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Mythic Masterpiece
David Elroy7 July 2003
Warning: Spoilers
This is a moving film, a profound film, and well-deserving of classic status among other 50s genre masterpieces such as "War of the Worlds" and "Forbidden Planet." I feel compelled to defend it against the comments of "walcaraz" from San Diego, who posted in April 2003. Here are my comments:


1.) The science is wholly convincing for 1951; it even takes into account such things as accumulated velocity and gravitational pull. Is it totally accurate? Certainly not; this is, after all, science fiction.

2.) It is made clear multiple times in the film that the US is not working on the project at all. It is a wholly private endeavor. Note the last of the newspaper headlines when we scroll down on the newsrack - "Laughed Out of United Nations." No government believes the scientists, so they must team up with industrialists and do everything on their own.

3.) Cultural diversity in 1951? I'm afraid the idea did not yet exist. It seems bizarre to fault any movie of this era for not being perfectly race-coordinated according to current fashions.

4.) It is true that it would be more efficient to have fewer men and more women, but the movie makes clear that the passengers are to be chosen by lot in as "fair" a way as possible. A moral point is being made here, not a scientific one. Regarding the genetics, let's not forget that DNA was not discovered until the 1950s, after this movie had already been produced. Eugenics had been around since the 1920s, but if anything it is a strength of this movie for resisting that kind of race-purity thinking (as walcaraz allows).

5.) These final images do stand out as different from the rest, which are more realistic. But remember, we are talking about a new world here, a magical and poetic (and dare I say spiritual) beginning of mankind, after the flight of a modern Noah's Ark. Why not add a touch of idealism here at the end? Let's not let jaded modern-day cynicism ruin this earnest and touching moment.

To me, if there is anything about "When Worlds Collide" that will mar it for contemporary viewers, it is the film's myriad Bible references. Scarcely 10 minutes will pass without a reference of this type. But I think that such gravity only adds to this film's impact. Indeed, it is perhaps most fair to see "When Worlds Collide" as a film that moves completely beyond the political, rising to the heights of archetype, religion, and myth.
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filled with vivid images and still engrossing over 50 years later
graduatedan12 June 2007
Of all of George Pal's remarkable body of work, I'd have to say that the films made during his tenure at Paramount are my favourites. The classic War of the Worlds, the splendid Conquest of Space and, of course, the still frightening When Worlds Collide. Based on the book By Wylie and Bulmer, the movie chronicles the end times, as a rogue star an planet head directly for Earth. Scientists propose a space ark that will, with any luck reach the rogue planet as it passes the doomed Earth. The eerie music score by Leith Stevens is just one of the elements that add to the genuine sense of unease that can still be felt today when viewing the picture. The special effects, groundbreaking for their time, are still eye popping.The acting is workmanlike,yet doesn't detract from the overall experience. One could certainly quibble with the science of the film,or the at times plummy dialogue, but after having watched When Worlds Collide recently, I found that I was glued to the screen all over again.
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Excellent 1950's SciFi
Wade V. Corbeil8 March 2007
Warning: Spoilers
Despite the obvious lack of modern day CGI & SFX, When World's Collide is a great mid-afternoon or rainy day SciFi, and one of the better SciFi's from the early '50's.

A rogue planet has been discovered to be on a collision course with earth, and the end of the world is eminent. There is only one recourse: Build a spaceship that is capable of transporting a select few to a distant planet to continue the human race.

Overall, the f/x are as would be expected from the early '50's; but given the relatively low budget, they work quite well and at times are good. The approaching planet as it grows larger in the sky is quite good and adds to the panic and fear of those in the path of this doomsday vessel...primarily the entire population of earth! Now, don't expect any great accuracies in either Astronomy, Physics or Planetary Science, but what one can expect is a fun SciFi that grabs your attention and plays on our biggest fears: Our own extinction with which we have no control.

A suspenseful film with a great ending, When World's Collide is one of the best SciFi's from this era.
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Classic sci-fi film now on DVD. A modern Noah's Ark.
TxMike29 January 2003
Warning: Spoilers
The popularity of DVD has spawned a resurgeance in the output of old movies, and "When Worlds Collide" is one of the better old ones. Made when I was about 5 years old, I don't ever recall seeing it in a theater, nor on TV in subsequent years. But today, as a loan from my public library, here it is! Despite the defects on the film, on DVD it comes across as a colorful and fairly sharp picture. Sound is only mono. There are no extras.

This film dared to tackle the difficult question of what we would do if astromomers found a fast-moving star/planet system heading directly for Earth, and one large enough to destroy us. We have about 8 months, and the only hope for mankind as we know it is to quickly build a spaceship, select about 44 people to go along, plus a good variety of various types of livestock, blast off right before Earth is destroyed, attempt to land on the new planet, and hope that the atmosphere will support life. Quite a lot to ask for, especially in 1951!

As with other sci-fi films of that generation, you have the straightforward, unsmiling scientists, you have the wheelchair-bound selfish rich guy who will finance the spacecraft if he can save his own skin, you have the beautiful young lady who has no greater purpose than creating love tension among two of the main protagonists, and you have the kid rescued with his dog off a rooftop.

The film's strength is neither the Earth's destruction nor the arrival on the new planet. Rather it is the interplay among the scientists, governing bodies, and common folk wrestling with the idea that our home, Earth, may be destroyed and what we can or should do about it. What a concept, what a slim margin for error. New wall calendars are printed, and as each day is peeled off, you see how much time is left before the destruction. Signs posted at the spacecraft construction site say "Waste anything but time. Time is our most valuable resource." When the space travelers are chosen by lottery, one man chooses to stay behind because his fiance' can't go. Some angry non-winners begin to revolt.

major SPOILER - As the Earth is being destroyed, the spaceship starts gliding down its mile-long ramp (never mind the bad physics here) and then upwards into space. Later, while running out of fuel, they manage to make an awkward but safe landing on what now has to be their new home. There can be no escape. While one says "let's test the atmosphere before we open the door", the brave pilot says, "it's the only air we have, it doesn't matter" as he opens the door, then says, "It's the best air I've ever breathed." We see a beautiful, verdant landscape, although a very strange one, and we only can imagine what could have happened in futue generations in this new home for mankind.
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It could happen to us...
toteit124 May 2007
At the time this very well done film was made, few people realized that it would not take a rouge planet to destroy the Earth, just a small mountain around eight or ten miles across. That would be the end of about 80 to 90% of all life on Earth as well as most of us. What is interesting when you compare this film to say "Deep Impact", made almost 50 years later, is the fact that the original, "When Worlds Collide" got it right for the most part. The special effects were remarkable as well when you consider no computer animation existed at the time and so much was done with miniatures. The spaceship was also a very remarkable in that it did not stretch credibility. The design and even the method of launching was accurate with the best projected future engineering of the day. However, would such a spaceship really be able to be constructed using late 1940s, early 50s technology? This craft was about the size of a NASA Space Shuttle. I had read that if the Space Shuttle was fitted with a passenger compartment, it could carry about 45 people. Again the writers and directors got it right. I wonder if anyone knows if Werner Von Braun was a consultant on this film? The really improbable part however is that one of the two planets (the one that does not strike the Earth) has an oxygen- nitrogen atmosphere and a surface gravity identical to that of the Earth, perfect to set up housekeeping on for a rebirth of humanity. I also like the idea that the film does not sacrifice story line and drama for special effects. As in a later "disaster from space" film "Meteor", remember to keep watching the sky!
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When Worlds Collide is a slightly compelling George Pal sci-fi
tavm7 April 2007
When Worlds Collide was George Pal's second sci-fi film after the success of his previous Destination Moon. It's also one of the earliest depictions of "the end-of-the-world" scenario since it was based on a 1932 novel. While the premise was interesting and there were some cool effects for a '50s Technicolor movie, there's the formula "girl has to choose between two men" that seemed par for the course in many of these genre flicks. The best performance was that of John Hoyt as the billionaire who finances the rocket move after the government turns scientist Larry Keating down. Richard Derr and Barbara Rush are the adequately compelling leads. Besides Keating who was the fourth Harry Morton on Burns and Allen, other familiar faces from later TV series include Hayden Rorke from I Dream of Jeanne (though it took a while before I recognized him since he wore a beard here) and Frank Cady from Petticoat Junction and Green Acres (though again he wasn't easily spotted without his mustache or gravelly voice). If you're a sci-fi fan of Pal, this film is worth a look. Just don't expect too much in the way of logic.
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This one beats 'Armageddon' hands down--and no mistake!
pegasusunicorn5211 July 2005
Warning: Spoilers
I have the region 2 version of this film and must first have a gripe about it. For such a classic piece of 50s sci-fi 'When Worlds Collide' has been woefully neglected. Surely the releasing company could have found someone to provide a commentary, or even a featurette, couldn't they? The only extra on the disc is a trailer, one lousy trailer. But that's the most this particular company usually provide(I'm not going to name names, those who read this review will know who I'm referring to anyway), with the exception of 'Forrest Gump'. There they gave us a double disc release, worthy of the trouble the filmmakers went to to get Forrest(Tom Hanks) in with such historical personages. But this is a review for 'When Worlds Collide', not 'Forrest Gump'.

Possible Spoilers follow...

Now I saw this film at the tender age of seven when it first came out(I'll let you work out my age from that clue yourselves). I was blown away by not only the storyline which, to a highly susceptible seven-year-old, was the most frightening thing ever, but by the special effects--especially the much-derided last scene as well as the flooding of New York and other various sequences of nature running amok. Incidentally did anyone notice(in that last scene on Zyra), a futuristic city in the distance, almost on the horizon? Perhaps they were going to do a sequel about how the various refugees survived on Zyra(did they meet other Zyrans? Were there indeed any Zyrans?).

One other point; occasionally there have been references to high body counts in films(either on-screen or off) but this one has them all beat. There can be nothing higher, body-wise, than the destruction of an entire planet(the original Star Wars(1977) comes pretty close when the Death Star obliterates Alderaan but there is a definite population on Earth whereas Alderaan's is unknown. Go and ask George if he knows).

So what is left to say about 'When Worlds Collide'? I find nothing wrong with the acting, special effects nor the story-line. Simply put, the movie is everything I came to expect from the 50s and is one of the best sci-fi movies of an entire century. Forget 'Armageddon' or 'Deep Impact' (although I prefer the latter to the former since it stars a pre-Frodo performance by the extremely talented Elijah Wood), this one has them beat by more than the standard mile--more like a couple of hundred miles! All in all this is a film worth studying on how to make a really fine movie. And, until that company release a 'Special Edition' DVD, I will hang on to my extras-light disc.

My verdict: 10/10. A winner all the way!
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An Early 1950s, Sci-Fi Gem
Dalbert Pringle7 November 2012
Even though its visuals have dated somewhat since its original release back in 1951, "When Worlds Collide" is still an interesting "End-of-the-World" Sci-Fi fable, no matter what anybody says to the contrary.

Brilliant scientist, Dr. Cole Hendron tries to convince a doubting world that Earth is in the direct path of a rogue planet called Bellus that's about the size of our Sun. And a collision with it is inevitable.

With no time to lose, wealthy financier, Sydney Stanton orders the immediate construction of a giant spaceship to transport selected survivors safely to a distant planet known as Zyra.

A world lottery is held in order to determine who is to travel to Zyra on this astounding spacecraft.

The special effects (which includes the submersion of Manhattan) won an Oscar for this impressive, technicolor, "George Pal" production.

Just convince yourself that "When Worlds Collide" could really happen and I guarantee that you'll enjoy this throughly entertaining picture from start to finish.
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This is not your ordinary science fiction film.
melvin-19 April 2003
A world ending and going to a new world. This movie was made from a book. The first story Before Worlds Collide, the second After Worlds Collide. If they remade this story like it was and made the second like it was you could see a better story. I liked the movie but I liked the book better.
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Excellent movie for it's time...
TheJarvis26 August 2002
Great story, great special effects - for 1951. Kind a George Pal look and feel to it. Nice build up, great suspense and awesome climax. This movie had a huge influence on me throughout my youth. A movie I can watch over and over again.
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A classic and a controversy
redbeard_nv12 January 2002
George Pal, Hungarian born Puppetoon creator and fantasy legend made several great science fiction space movies. Adaptations of popular books in the 50's included former German rocket scientist Willy Ley's "Conquest Of Space" using designs and ideas illustrated by space artist Chestley Bonestell, who's work is seen in almost all of Pal's space films in one way or another, considered cutting edge for the time. His others included H.G.Wells classic "War Of The Worlds", Robert Heinlein's "Destination Moon" and the Edwin Balmer & Philip Wylie 1932 novel "When World's Collide".

The results still stand as seminal classics of science fiction filmwork, often copied, referenced and paid homage in one way or another. Although perhaps dated by the computer generated, digitally enhanced SFX of today's so-called masterpieces, these films still stand out as the major influences which helped shape our dream, visions and often spoke to our deepest fears, such as the end of the world.

From the inverted ski jump launch system (used today on aircraft carriers), to expendable booster rockets (a Space Shuttle standard), the Ark spaceship spawned the imagination of many filmakers, including some who reused the model for other films such as "Flight To Mars" and "The Queen Of Outer Space". The movie still stands as a milestone as the first science fiction disaster movie.

Once again, Leith Stevens' musical score enriches the experience, as it did for Pal's previous space adventure, "Destination Moon". The film's special effects won it the Oscar in 1951. All this, and in the rich tones of Technicolor that shall never been seen in a first run movie theater again. Thank you Lord for revival houses that still manage to seek out old time prints for festivals (the Alamo Drafthouse in Austin, Texas comes to mind).

There still remains a bit of controversy, though, about the film's ending. A wide, panoramic Bonestell matte painting is seen from the hatch of the newly arrived Ark. In the image can be seen two clearly pyramidal mountains in perfect proportions, as if artificial, as well as the base of what appears to be a building constructed by an alien intelligence. Although the actors don't react to this (the matte effect added in post production), the artwork hints at the planet Zyra as being inhabited (In the novel, the planet is known as Bronson Beta, and is indeed found to be once inhabited, and is explored further in the sequel "After Worlds Collide").

In the 1970s, producers Richard Zanuck and David Brown attempted to do a remake, which eventually mutated into the 1998 film, "Deep Impact". As in "When Worlds Collide", the human interaction was as important as the science fiction elements.
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Review of Science and Opinions on Movie (6/10 stars)
mmml870129 July 2003
Like The Day the Earth Stood Still and The Forbidden Planet, When Worlds Collide is a classic scifi movie which is any die heart scifi love should see. Based on the concept of an Armageddon-type disaster, it is a foreplay for modern movies like Armageddon, Deep Impact, and others similar to them. This movie, like all others, contains both correct and incorrect science. One bit of correct science is the "Differential Analyzer". This machine is essentially an enormous and complex calculator bordering on modern day computers. This machine, as every school child in America can tell you, is very practical. However, incorrect science appears to be more dominant when compared to correct science. First and foremost in the incorrect science category is the spaceship that is constructed. The size of the ship and the materials available at that time period (mainly less advanced isotopes of metals) indicate that it would be in excess of 7,000 tons! In addition, the design of the spaceship appears to be impractical for it to be able to land on an alien planet (the ship isn't even equipped with wheels or ski-like landing gear to allow it to land. Another note, when the viewers are shown the inside of the spaceship there is at least two dozen feet of head room. If the creators wanted to bring as many people or as much supplies as possible, shouldn't that room be used for additional fuel, people, knowledge, or food?

Another bit of incorrect science is the statement that Bellus had traveled one million miles in two weeks but also traversed three billion miles in under a year (if Bellus traveled one million miles for one year it would traverse 52 million miles, not three billion miles). Overall, I rate this movie a 6 out of 10. It boasts a good plot which streches our imaginations. In addition, the idea of not only flying to another world but landing and creating a new society, is far-reaching (space flight only begins in that era and the exploration of other planets doesn't come for a few dozen years). However, the graphics are poor, especially the landscape of Zyra, which appears to be a cartoon drawing. Also, the movie, in my opinion at least, revolves to strongly around Dave and Joyce instead of on the destruction and obliteration of Earth. Therefore, although I recommend this movie to scifi viewers, I do it with hesitations and the reminder that this is a movie created over 50 years ago.
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