Sunday, 26 May 2013

Earth Vs. The Flying Saucers (1956)

There are many factors that can influence individual movie viewings, and when writing up a review it's important, I feel, to mention these if they've notably contributed to the final rating/view of a movie. I try to mention the rose-tinted glasses of nostalgia when applicable. I've mentioned when my own lack of knowledge may be working against me when it comes to certain genres/subgenres/world cinema releases (world cinema releases? I do hate that phrase but have never come up with anything better, sorry). Or, of course, it's worth mentioning if you hate one particular type of movie. A review of Halloween will be very different if the film is watched by someone who doesn't like slasher/horror movies. This is all just leading up to me saying that I fairly enjoyed Earth Vs. The Flying Saucers, but I think that has as much to do with me having recently watched Mars Attacks! as it does to do with the final product on display here.

Hugh Marlowe and Joan Taylor star as the couple who may have the key to fending off an attack by aliens when flying saucers starts appearing everywhere and causing lots of destruction. Well, it's mainly Marlowe thinking up the defence/retaliation plan while Taylor is the loving wife bravely sticking by his side. That's really all there is to it.

I don't know, off the top of my head, if anything similar came along before this film so I'm going to take a guess and say that, despite its many flaws and moments of ridiculousness, Earth Vs. The Flying Saucers has remained quite an influential movie. It undoubtedly cast a large shadow over Independence Day, a film made and released four decades later, with the scenes featuring flying saucers hovering over, and ready to attack, some very famous buildings and landmarks.

Director Fred F. Sears keeps things moving briskly enough, and the script by George Worthing Yates and Bernard Gordon (based on a NON-FICTION book by Donald E. Keyhoe) may often be downright silly most of the time, but is also very entertaining.

The acting isn't the best, but I guess Marlowe and Taylor do okay in the lead roles. Donald Curtis and John Zaremba are two main supporting cast members, both do fine with their limited screentime.

The special effects by Ray Harryhausen are fine. Sadly, he doesn't get to create any living, breathing creatures of myth, but the flying saucers are good, old-fashioned flying saucers that work just fine onscreen. The model work helping to realise the big scenes of destruction in the final reel is nice enough, even if it's not on a par with his usual stuff.

Part of me wonders why I enjoyed Earth Vs. The Flying Saucers so much, but another part of me knows that . . . . . . . sometimes that's just the way it goes. I saw all of the failings and mis-steps, I just found myself easily able to overlook them thanks to the sheer fun factor of the whole thing.


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