The Bubble (1966)
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I own a 75 minute version taped off-the-air, bearing the alternate title, THE FANTASTIC INVASION OF PLANET EARTH.
This is like an extended TWILIGHT ZONE episode that never gets boring. It continuously keeps you in suspense.
A small prop plane flying through a rainstorm must land because one of the two passengers is about to have a baby.
When the young couple and the pilot put down in the small American town, they find all the townspeople are in a near-catatonic state. The three explore and find fallen Roman columns. They try to drive out of the town but run into an invisible barrier surrounding it. Is there anything left alive on the outside, or is this the last town on Earth? The pilot is plucked from above, is a giant alien collecting specimens? The couple find a small factory producing alien food for the townspeople. Will the baby survive if the food source is destroyed? Is there a limit to the barrier, and can it be surmounted?
Michael Cole turns in an excellent performance as the young newlywed.
I highly recommend this spooky classic.
However, this was the first film widely distributed in a single strip/one projector 3-D process instead of the dual strip/dual projector system used in the fifties.
The film has been compared to an overlong "Twilight Zone" and that is an apt description. The widescreen 3-D is quite good. It's a bit slow, and the film was cut from the original 112m version to 90 mins for a wide 1976 3-D re-issue under the title FANTASTIC INVASION OF PLANET EARTH. Later 3-D video versions cut it further to 75 mins.
Rhino's DVD restores the original title but is the 90 min version, and has been downconverted from polarized to inferior red/blue anaglyph. Still, the red/blue presentation is better than most; and is worth a purchase for 3-D fans. Just don't expect it to look as good as the original polarized glasses version.
It was not new because it used polarized lenses...those had been used in the majority of the 3D films in the 50's. The new process related to the projection of the film. (I don't recall the articles going into much more detail about that process, but now I know it was apparently the first to combine both images on a single filmstrip.)
I was so excited that Oboler himself was in my hometown to supervise the showing I made sure to go see it. I believe it was at the Adams in downtown Detroit.
The 3D was mind-blowing! The beer tray floating out over the audience has still (this is mid 2013) not been topped for jaw-dropping 3D. I have thought of it many times since, and I think the reason it worked so well, and so much better than explosions or other fast-moving moves out of frame, is that the tray moved slow enough to follow and keep in focus by our eyes. (This is similar to holding one finger in front of your face and slowly moving it toward your nose. Your eyes cross slowly as your finger gets nearer.) I remember little else of the film, but I know that I walked out feeling I got my money's worth, just for the 3D alone.
I remember a lot about how terrible the film was, but I also remember it was an absolutely hilarious evening. This is the funniest of my recollections of the evening ... and why I disclose a "spoiler" here ... although spoiling this turkey is somehow an oxymoron.
At one point in the film, the two protagonists have been running from all sorts of horrible goings on, through forests, rivers, and caves. At one point the action slows a bit, things get a tad quieter, and the girl, who is stretched to the edge emotionally and started to break down says, "Do you know what today is?" Her male counterpart, who is holding her as they sit in mud in a cave somewhere, says, "No ... what?" She says, "Today is ... (sob sob) ... my ... birthday!" Then she starts to cry.
And from somewhere in the back of the house, near the top of the balcony, a lone voice began singing ...
"Happy birthday to you .... Happy birthday to you ..." ... and then other voices joined in ...
"Happy birthday ... happy birthday ..." ... and still more joined in ... and more ...
"Happy birthday to you ..." ... until the entire audience was singing the Happy Birthday song. The song was sung completely, and repeated at least twice growing louder and louder. The audience was laughing and clapping ... and singing this absurd Happy Birthday to the movie! After the film everyone was talking about how The Bubble was the worst thing seen since Plan 9 From Outer Space ... but everyone agreed that the audience and the impromptu Happy Birthday show was one of the finest moments in movie going memory ... at least in mine.
I'd love to hear from anyone else who was there that night! What a HOOT!
Director Arch Oboler ("The Twonky") pioneered a new 3-D process called "Spacevision" which used polarized glasses to separate the right-and-left images for the audience. The 3-D effect works remarkable well, especially in a scene involving a serving tray which floats out of the screen and (apparently) right up to the viewer's face.
Oboler obviously made "The Bubble" just to show off "Spacevision"; the plot is practically nonexistent, and the film is littered with scenes that poke objects out of the screen at the audience. In Deborah Walley's first scene, she holds her arms out to the audience and exclaims "Darling!" to husband Michael Cole.
The token plot is about a small town which alien invaders have isolated inside a spherical force field (the bubble of the title). A small plane piloted by Johnny Desmond and carrying newlyweds Michael and Deborah is forced to land during a storm, and the trio end up trapped in the town. The town's citizens act like broken robots, repeating routine tasks over and over, oblivious to everything around them. Olan Soule has a small role as one of the automaton Earthlings. The alleged alien invaders are never shown.
Music by Paul Sawtell and Bert Schefter (the team which provided mucic for "It! The Terror from Beyond Space" and many other 1950s classics). Arch Oboler served as producer, screenwriter, and director -- so he has nobody to blame but himself.
The movie is very slow paced and tedious. One early line from the male lead got a big laugh in the theater: When his wife is in labor (in a plane I think) and about to give birth, he desperately asks her, "can't you hold it in?" What I really remember is the 3D. Even Grandma was amazed, excited and laughing like a kid (along with everyone else in the theater) at the way things really came out of the screen at you. At one point, a tray of beer glasses floats off the bar and into the audience, very slowly. It gets closer and closer until it looks like you could touch it if you stood up and reached over. Many people in the theater did just that (myself included).
What fun. Great memories of a very happy afternoon. Thanks, Grandma :-)
Childhood memories aside, this movie is horrible. The plot is just plain stupid, the acting mediocre at best, and the ending a complete disappointment. But you can read all that in pretty much any review of this movie.
I think the version I originally saw so many years ago was the non 3-D version, so I was sort of curious what it would look like in 3-D. The Rhino DVD's red/blue 3-D effects are pathetic; the result is much more distracting than rewarding. After 90 minutes my eyes were very strained. I even tried viewing on three different monitors and adjusting the color but to no avail. The only thing saving this movie from my second ever "1 outta 10" rating is that I've read the original polarized 3-D effects were quite good.
2 outta 10 stars.
Anway, here's the spoiler. The plot, such as it was, could be compared to a bunch of kids collecting ants, grasshoppers, etc. and putting them into a glass jar, and tossing in what ever they think would make the insects seem at home, grass, twigs, leaves.
So, if some alien kid did the same to humans, what would it toss in? Part of the Lincoln Memorial, bits and pieces of things from around the world. And if a specimen died, what would a kid do? Remove it quickly not knowing if its death would affect the others still in the jar.
And might bugs do if trapped in a jar? Possibly try to do the things by rote they did before. And if a new bug accidentally flew into the jar unawares, it would probably spend some time trying to figure out how to get out before falling into a repetitive life.
Here's the plot in brief. Husband and wife out flying with a pilot get caught in a storm (imagine the storm from War of the Worlds), and are forced to land inside the jar/bubble. Most of the other inhabitants are living their lives as if they're robots, going through the motions of their occupations. Our heroes try to get out, the pilot dies in an attempt.
I believe at the end, the bubble is lifted, but I don't remember if there is any kind of conclusion.
The 3D effects were silly, like firemen carrying a ladder into the audience. Most of them had little to do with furthering the plot. I believe Johnny Desmond (the pilot) got to sing a song. He was a 2nd rate Al Martino about 10 years earlier (if you get the joke).
Not much of a movie, and probably helped stifle 3D for awhile...until (ta da) late 2009.
It was titled Fantastic Invasion of Planet Earth. It was the first of two movie bill at a local theater in Dayton, Ohio. I don't remember a lot of the movie.
What I remember is the events around the 2nd movie a new movie was released and the title was John Carpenter's The Thing one of the star's in The Thing was Kurt Russell.
He had just recently made a movie about Elvis Presley Most of the people in the audience were women with their kids and the Elvis gear on.
Once the Fantastic Invasion of Planet Earth was over the women were excited and they stayed until the husky dog got ripped open they left running in droves.
That's my best memory for The Bubble aka Fantastic Invasion of Planet Earth
The landscape in this movie is a bunch of dirt roads, with weird stuff stored by the side of the roads. Like you would find stored by the side of the roads in the back lots of a movie studio. Things like the bottom half of the Lincoln Memorial.
Yes, I think it is fair to say that some movie exec looked out the window and said, "There's a whole bunch of weird junk stored behind the movie studio. Let's see if we can film a movie back there, for free, where we never film any movies." The only reason this was not as dreary as it could be was that it was possible to re-release it in 3-D, and there is one scene (the "floating tray of beer" scene) where that was a little fun.
Around that time, the Guy (Michael Cole) was starring in The Mod Squad. And as for the Girl (Deborah Walley), well there was a time when guys would line up to see her in a movie. Amazing that Cole and Walley got talked into this movie.
The special effects (aside from 3d) leave a lot to be desired. For example, in one scene, they use floating rubber masks... like cheap rubber masks you can buy at any Halloween store in October in the United States.
So, do not rent this movie for the plot.
Where this movie shines is in 3d. This is the type of movie where the plot and acting were incidental. It's entire theme is to show off 3d. You'll be treated to things like a guy raking thin air, with the garden rake filmed to be coming out at you.
You have two scenes of a bucket of dirt being lifted towards you, solely included because it looks somewhat cool in 3d.
The 3d effects are much better than most 3d movies of today. Things have depth and actually seem to come out of the screen.
However, let me reiterate once again, that is the only thing going for this movie.