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Greatest Golden Age Sci-Fi Movies - 1953: Invaders from Mars

Updated on April 30, 2009

 This motion picture starts well enough with a youth (Jimmy Hunt) named David Maclean who witnesses the landing of a flying saucer not far away from his home. He warns his parents who go to check out the new arrivals. When they return back home, David immediately notices that they have somehow changed. They are colder, disinterested, and have little desire to listen to his complaints.

Shot with a very high budget for the age, and likely the first major motion picture that was seriously considered to be shot in 3D technology, this precursor to Invasion of the body snatchers benefits from a superlative first act but completely falls apart in by the third act. It's almost as the producers switched screenwriters at about a third of the way through the film.

In what has become another very sad science fiction cliche, Jimmy soon discovers that the aliens have planted a mind control device (zzzzzzzzzzz) on his parents and are now using them for their own nefarious purposes. The youth finally finds some other people to actually listen to him and believe him, and by the end the flying saucer which was hidden in an underground cavern in the desert is blown to smithereens. The Earth is safe once again! Yay!

The movie is fairly slow paced, has rather disappointing special effects for the level of science fiction SFX of the better movies of the Fifites, and has just a few too many gaping plot holes the size of the UFO holding underground cavern. However, Invaders from Mars is not to just be jettisoned into a pile of Fifties science fiction dung. The scenes in the desert where the sand dunes to the horizon cover up the underground machinations of the evil martians, are definitely memorable.

If only they had used better judgement in the final scene of the film, where the long hidden alien is finally shown on screen: He turns out to be a talking head in a bottle, for cryin' out loud. Even in the Fifties, this scene drew guffaws in the dark motion picture palaces of the age, so you can just imagine what the reaction of a modern audience would be to that utter idiocy.

If you watch Invaders from Mars, change the DVD after the first act. You won't miss much and you'll most certainly thank me for sparing you an hour of your life that you can spend doing something... anything... else.

Yet... the first act is enough to list it as one of the greatest science fiction movies of the Golden Age!

1953: Invaders from Mars

Directed by
William Cameron Menzies
 
Screenwriting by
John Tucker Battle (for the story)
Richard Blake (as a writer)

Cast
 Dr. Pat Blake, MD - Helena Carter
 Dr. Kelston - astronomer / Narrator - Arthur Franz
 David Maclean - boy astronomer - Jimmy Hunt
 Mr. George MacLean - Leif Erickson
 Mrs. Mary MacLean - Hillary Brooke
 Col. Fielding - Morris Ankrum
 Sgt. Rinaldi - Max Wagner
 Capt. Roth - army technician - Milburn Stone
 Kathy Wilson - Janine Perreau

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