Thinking this will prevent war, the US government gives an impenetrable supercomputer total control over launching nuclear missiles. But what the computer does with the power is unimaginable to its creators.
When virtually all of the residents of Piedmont, New Mexico, are found dead after the return to Earth of a space satellite, the head of the US Air Force's Project Scoop declares an emergency. Many years prior to this incident, a group of eminent scientists led by Dr. Jeremy Stone (Arthur Hill) advocated for the construction of a secure laboratory facility that would serve as a base in the event an alien biological life form was returned to Earth from a space mission. Stone and his team - Drs. Dutton, Leavitt and Hall (David Wayne, Kate Reid, and James Olson, respectively)- go to the facility, known as Wildfire, and try to first isolate the life form while determining why two people from Piedmont (an old wino and a six-month-old baby) survived. The scientists methodically study the alien life form unaware that it has already mutated and presents a far greater danger in the lab, which is equipped with a nuclear self-destruct device should it manage to escape.Written by
The set used for the Wildfire patient 'hot' room and cage handling scenes was reused in 1979 for the TV series Buck Rogers in the 25th Century. It can be found in season 1 episode 7 at 37min. See more »
A close-up of the crying baby found in the town by the recon scientists shows the face of a baby that is obviously not crying as the soundtrack portrays. See more »
[smugly, speaking of the President of the United States]
The boss'll be pleased to know that he made the right decision on 7-12 in the first place.
Dr. Ruth Leavitt:
[harsh with sarcasm]
Congratulate him on his scientific insight.
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There is no music over the end credits. See more »
The VHS version deletes a few scenes of the "searching the town" scene, including a shot of a topless young woman lying in bed. See more »
Robert Wise is an under rated director but in his body of work are such gems as 'The Body Snatcher', 'The Set-Up', 'The Day the Earth Stood Still', 'Odds Against Tomorrow', 'The Haunting', 'West Side Story', 'I Want to Live!' and on its own terms, 'The Sound of Music'. He managed to make genre films more interesting and watchable than other more celebrated directors.
'The Andromeda Strain' is an engrossing film from beginning to end. It is science fiction, alien virus comes to earth type thing, but has more depth than just that. The scientists, played very well by Arthur Hill, David Wayne, Kate Reid and James Olson, are fallible and have real emotions. Yet in them is a longing to know, to discover, to solve. Most popular cinema celebrate the fist or the gun but part of the excitement of this film is the use of the intellect to tackle the problem. Brains and not brawn is key.
The early scenes in the town of Piedmont are fascinating. Nothing dramatic, only small details adding up to a large tragedy. Restrained film making is not common but in this case it is really effective. After these scenes the film moves on as fear and wonder grip the scientists to a satisfying conclusion.
The electronic music is just right, the sets are atmospheric, the hard ware plausible and the photography simple and effective. A mention should be made of Paula Kelly as a nurse, an excellent actor and shamefully under used in films. (She is great in 'Sweet Charity' too.)In a supporting role she gives an intelligent, spirited performance.
A near perfect film. Hopefully no one will re-make it.
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