Friday, December 2, 2016

Sci Fi Top 100, #65: "The War of the Worlds" (1953)

Movie Stats:
Released 1953 (USA)
American, in English
Director - Byron Haskin
Stars - Gene Barry, Anne Robinson, Les Tremayne

Plot Summary:
An invasion force from Mars lands on Earth. Barry stars as scientist Dr. Clayton Forrester; Robinson as his gal pal, Sylvia Van Buren; and Tremayne as Major General Mann.


Bad Stuff:
I really could have done without the overt religiosity.

It’s pretty cheesy, especially a lot of the special effects.

If the Martians planned this invasion as meticulously as the movie would have me believe, I think they might have accounted for the alien diseases they would encounter.

Good Stuff:
One thing I really appreciate about 1950s sci fi is that it’s big on problem solving. It actually shows scientists working on and testing theories, whereas more modern movies seem to gloss over scientific work (I’m guessing because modern moviemakers think the audience will find that boring).

I’m pretty impressed that it featured Sylvia, a woman with a Master’s degree (although she was sort of a damsel in distress) AND a female scientist, Dr. Duprey (Ann Codee).

It’s genuinely horrifying in parts; quite a bit darker than I was expecting.

The Verdict:
The religiosity was a huge turnoff to me. I didn’t think it was overbearing so much as it felt out of place. The whole movie was about the human struggle to figure things out and survive and then, bam, “tra-la-la, God saved us.” Um, okay? Other than that and the questionable special effects - they probably would have looked better in black and white - I thought it was decent. The story was interesting. I liked the main characters. It’s short and moves along at a quick pace. And it’s way better than that abomination Tom Cruise starred in back in 2005 (Seriously? That was in 2005? Wow.)

I give it 3.25 stars.


Patricia said...

I was gonna say "at least you didn't have to watch the Tom Cruise version." Channing Tatum is supposedly in that version, but I refuse to watch it because 1)Mr. Cruise and 2)IMDB says he plays Boy in Church (uncreditied). And that means I don't have to watch it.

Did the two women talk to each other? About something beside a man? Even meeting the first level of the Bechdel test (Has two women) is amazing for a 50s sci-fi movie.

balyien said...

I actually saw the Tom Cruise version in the theater when it came out, so I can confirm that it's terrible.

I can't recall if the two main females have a conversation. I know that, in one scene at least, they're in the room at the same time. If they do talk, it's about science, so there's that.