It Came from Outer Space (1953) Review

Spoiler-free so you can read before you watch

It Came from Outer Space (1953) Review

Horrorific content by TE Simmons on December 16th, 2021 | Movie Review | Alien, Classic Horror, Sci-Fi

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It’s about the nerdy guy whom no one trusts – even when he’s right.

It Came from Outer Space was directed by Jack Arnold (Tarantula, Creature from the Black Lagoon, and The Incredible Shrinking Man) and stars Richard Carlson (Tormented, The Maze, and Creature from the Black Lagoon), Barbara Rush (Moon of the Wolf, When Worlds Collide, and Hombre) and Russell Johnson (Attack of the Crab Monsters, This Island Earth, and, in television’s Gilligan’s Island, as “the professor”). It was scripted by Harry Essex (I, the Jury) based on a story treatment by Ray Bradbury (The Martian Chronicles).

Can John Putnam convince the sheriff of an extraterrestrial presence – and its amiability – before it’s too late?

It Came from Outer Space Review

Outsider John Putnam is an amateur astronomer closely allied with Ellen Fields, a teacher, in rural Arizona. An intruder enters their lives in the form of a spectacular meteorite crash. First on the scene, John scrambles into the smoking crater. He spots a gleaming curve of something and a closing hatchway, which triggers a landslide. John escapes, the evidence of alien life is buried, and no one heeds his warnings. Even Ellen is initially skeptical.

It Came from Outer Space is a classic film from a simpler time. Arizona had only been a state for about four decades when the film was released, and man had split the atom just a smidge over two decades previous. In 1953, when an interstellar craft made an unscheduled stopover on our planet, you might be able to track down the aliens by following the missing copper wire from the local hardware store. Or simply track them from trails of glitter thicker than those left by middle school girls in our own age.

It’s a hokey film but it’s so earnest that one can’t poke too much fun at it. The aliens are goofy, moist, one-eyed elephants. Their motivations are hopelessly muddled – they masquerade as humans because we’re not mature enough to gaze upon their weirdness. But they also show themselves frequently. They’re peaceful. But they threaten to exterminate their hostages if their demands aren’t met.

Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the film is the relationship between John Putnam, the man “who thinks for himself” (which is not intended as a compliment) and strapping local sheriff Matt Warren – a former beau of Ellen, whom John is dating. The love triangle is charged with the sheriff’s doubts about the astronomer’s theories about the existence of the aliens as well as his doubts about John’s worthiness as a match for Ellen.

At one point, John decks the sheriff with a stiff upper cut and turns his sidearm on him to allow the aliens to make a get-away. The assault is just as quickly forgotten and the two join forces to rescue Ellen. Yes, 1953 was a simpler time.

Worth Watching?

Yes, it really is. It’s hokey and earnest and wonderful. It’s It Came from Outer Space.

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