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Greatest Golden Age Sci-Fi Movies - 1955: This island Earth

Updated on April 30, 2009

 A scientist (Rex Reason) receives a strange engineering plan in the mail and is able to construct from it a mysterious device. As soon as he is finished he realizes that he has effectively built a type of radio transmitter which allows him to contact an alien life from. The alien is a humanoid with a tall forehead and white hair (Jeff Morrow) who begs him to help his race to survive as they are on the brink of extinction after a long war with the inhabitants of a nearby planet.

The scientist along with two of his colleagues agree to help the ailen, and attempt to invent a new type of energy, working first on Earth and then on the alien's own planet. Unfortunately it is too little too late as the alien's planet is soon destroyed by their interplanetary enemies. Thanks only to the selfless sacrifice of the original alien contact, the scientists are able to escape back to Earth, and of course at the last possible moment.

This island Earth is a movie where nothing is certain as the aliens don't know what to do to win the war, nor how to convince the Earth scientists to help them. It seems as if the aliens are unsure whether to collaborate with the scientists or just run away. All of the protagonists do not resemble in any way the typical Fifties science fiction characters.

The aliens are not bloodthirsty monsters, nor are they benefactors of humanity. They seem to be just as messed up as we are, except with taller foreheads. The scientist are not heroes who will do anything to save humanity, even sacrifice their own lives. They seem to be only peripherally intersted in the alien's world and the war that is about to destroy it. They seem far more interested in getting back home in one piece.

This uncertainty pervades all aspects of this motion picture from the exceptionally leaky plotline and even the special effects which range between the exceptional for the age, and the purely laughable. Critics seem to be split on This island Earth as well.

There are many who have heralded this as the prototype of modern science fiction where all aspects are shades of gray, while others have just put it down to another B-movie hack job by the omnipresent Jack Arnold who came in at the last minute to perform some extensive reshoots to try to save the film from Joseph M. Newman's messy direction. There can be no doubt that this was a motion picture that opened doors to new horizons in science fiction, even though the movie in and as of itself, leaves more than a bit to be desired.

1955: This island Earth

Directed by
Joseph M. Newman (as Joseph Newman)
Jack Arnold (reshoots) (not shown in the credits)
Screenwriting by
Raymond F. Jones (for the story "The Alien Machine")
Franklin Coen (for the screenplay) &
Edward G. O'Callaghan (for the screenplay)

 Exeter - Jeff Morrow
 Dr. Ruth Adams - Faith Domergue
 Dr. Cal Meacham - Rex Reason
 Brack - Lance Fuller
 Steve Carlson - Russell Johnson
 The Monitor of Metaluna - Douglas Spencer
 Joe Wilson - Robert Nichols
 Dr. Adolph Engelborg (as Karl L. Lindt) - Karl Ludwig Lindt


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    • Hal Licino profile image

      Hal Licino 8 years ago from Toronto

      I think the main reason it was never remade is just because of the absurdity of this advanced spacefaring civilization requiring a couple of earthlings in lab coats to save them. I'm sure we could come up with an interesting twist that would make it modern and believable though...

      ... any studios with a big development budget they'd mind throwing our way? :)

    • profile image

      Opinion Duck 8 years ago

      This movie has an interesting and compelling first part but as the movie progresses it leads to a lackluster finish. It had a lot of potential but never made the mark.

      Having said that, I still think it was a great movie. It just could have been made even better.

      The premise of the aliens looking to earth scientists to solve their energy problem was a little weak. It is interesting that no one did a remake of this classic scifi movie.