Wednesday, November 24, 2010


Thanksgiving week is when I review science fiction and fantasy movies, reliving my memories of when our local TV stations would program many of these films, for the kids who were off school for a few days (while their parents started Christmas shopping!). This film is probably one of the earliest SF disaster films, produced by George Pal (WAR OF THE WORLDS, THE TIME MACHINE) and a big hit in its day. Generally, the special effects have aged well, but the predictable human drama has not. Scientists in South Africa give pilot Richard Derr an important packet of information to deliver to scientist Larry Keating; a reporter tries to bribe him to give up his "black box" secret but he doesn’t. The bad news is that in a few months a sun and planet from another solar system are about to collide with the Earth, causing the total destruction of mankind. The "good" news, I guess, is that Keating is planning a Noah's Ark-type flight to the approaching planet to relocate a lucky few humans. World governments don't believe it will work, but millionaire John Hoyt agrees to finance the building of the spaceship. A tired love triangle between Derr, Keating’s daughter (Barbara Rush), and her doctor boyfriend takes up some screen time, while virtually no time at all is given to the inevitable problems that would crop up when billions of people realize they are doomed and that a bunch of white American scientists and workers will be saved. The effects showing some of the destruction on the planet are good, and the ship itself looks fine, but where they land looks like Planet Disney. A high level of tolerance and/or nostalgia for these 50's SF epics is helpful in getting through this. [DVD]

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