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The Saturday Matinée ~ "This Island Earth"

Updated on September 3, 2017

Please see a spoiler alert and the design and intent of these "The Saturday Matinée" film recommendations at ~ "The Saturday Matinee ~ a preview".

There have always been 'space' movies. As early as 1902 the French filmmaker Georges Méliès was astounding audiences with his "A Trip to The Moon", nearly 40 years before Buck Rogers would hit the big screen. But it was in the 1950s, the atomic age, that most (particularly baby-boomers) think of as the golden era of Hollywood outer space SciFi films. And when most think of the great space movies of the 50s they inevitably think of 1956's "Forbidden Planet" . . . then perhaps "The War of the Worlds" from 1953. Both are very good films with much to recommend them, but for me, neither are as good as the earth-bound "Invasion of the Body Snatchers" ('56) or "The Day the Earth Stood Still" ('51).

With his collected Earth scientists, Exeter returns to Metaluna hoping to save his dying planet

As Science fiction, outer space movies go, "Forbidden Planet" and "The War of the Worlds"are great - but "Invasion of the Body Snatchers" and "The Day the Earth Stood Still" are film masterpieces whether considered within the SciFi genre or simply as Hollywood films.

But, if we are talking specifically about SciFi outer space movies (and we are because it's my hub, and I am) then my vote eagerly goes to "This Island Earth" as the best space movie of the 1950's golden era. With a cool space ship, a compelling alien, an interesting plot, and an easy to root for hero and a beautiful and appropriately adventurous yet fearful heroine, 1955's "This Island Earth" is my favorite 50's outer space movie.

Arriving at what appears to be the doomed planet Metaluna, how will our heroes manage to ever return safely to earth?

Scientist Carl Meacham begins to have never ordered electronic parts arrive at his laboratory, and then a massive catalog and instruction manual. Not only did he not order this electronic equipment, but they (are course) beyond the capacity of any known Earth science. As he flips through the instruction manual ("Why, this isn't paper - it's some kind of flexible metal") he determines that he is going to construct what the mysterious catalog calls, an interocitor.

Once construction is complete and the interocitor is turned on, Exeter appears in the large triangular screen . . . a very pleasant, business suited fellow whose hair is just a little too whit and whose forehead is just a little too large. Eventually we discover that Dr. Meacham is just one of a number of scientists that have been enlisted by Exeter to aid his home planet, which he fears is doomed. The distant planet Metaluna is losing a war with a neighboring planet and they either need the particular research Earth scientists have had some success with, or they need an appropriate planet to escape to - which will it be?!

"This Island Earth" is, more than any other movie I can think of, a comic book come to life. The posters announced '3 years in the making' and this was not merely a promotional blurb - the film was shot in 3-part Technicolor, a very uncommon and costly process. The result is a very crisp and vibrant movie that appears, almost like vivid pages of a living comic book. And the story and characters were very much like the best DC SciFi comic books of the 1960s as well. Now, that analogy may appeal to some and not to others, but the movie is great fun for kids and grown-ups alike . . . a wonderful, I think the best, example of 1950s Hollywood space movies - a classic.

This is the second in my series of "The Saturday Matinée" movie recommendations. . . please check-out these other entries in the series.

"The Saturday Matinée ~ preview" (an introduction to this movie review series)

1. The Saturday Matinée ~ "Mysterious Island"

2. The Saturday Matinée ~ "Horror Of Dracula"

3. The Saturday Matinée ~ "This Island Earth"

please also visit my other series "Regular, Normal Christianity"

Please do share any comments or questions below ~

One of the 'boy's back to school movie sleepovers with grampa' with just some of the grandsons . . . the younger ones will join us as they are able and interested to sit still and give their attention to the movie


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    • MickeySr profile image

      MickeySr 6 years ago from Hershey, Pa.

      phdast7 ~ if I may, what is it about films of the 50/60s that you dislike? I most particularly like Hollywood films of the 30s & 40s, far fewer films from the 80s to now, etc, but there's no era that I actually veer away from.

    • phdast7 profile image

      Theresa Ast 6 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      I had never heard of This Planet Earth. And I am not usually a fan of movies from the fifties and sixties, but you make it sound quite intriguing. I might have to watch it after all. Thanks for the review.

    • MickeySr profile image

      MickeySr 6 years ago from Hershey, Pa.

      I love Joel and his robot friends, but I was not at all happy they chose "This Island Earth" for their feature film - it ran contrary to their whole shtick . . . any movie from another era will have aspects to it that could be mocked, but they always gave their attention to films that were worthy of mocking by the audience they were originally made for. It's far more enjoyable to watch "Pod People" or "Space Mutiny" with Joel and the gang - but with a film like "This Island Earth" you actually want to watch the movie and all the chatter becomes a hindrance . . . still love the satellite of love crew, but they should have stuck to their tv charter and put something on the big screen that didn't stand on it's own and that no one would want to watch without their well-deserved darts being tossed at it.

    • DSPickett profile image

      DSPickett 6 years ago from Orlando, FL

      This Island Earth got the full riff treatment in Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Movie. It probably deserves more respect than that, though Joel and the bots did do a good job of using its more dated elements and campy aspects as comedic targets. Unfortunately, the print used lacked the vibrant color of the original Technicolor prints. I don't know if the film has been treated to the kind of restoration it deserves. You are right, it is a vintage science fiction comic come to life, like a living pulp magazine cover. It's great fun.