Thursday, October 04, 2007

31 Days of Halloween - Day 4 Movie 1

Today is the 50th Anniversary of the launching of Sputnik, an event without which there would likely be no space program of any sort today. Certainly, humans would never have set foot on the moon.

My original intent was to commemorate the day, and stay, more-or-less, true to this month's them by watching "War of the Satellites" (1958) or even "Matinee" (1993), but the idea of digging through boxes of VHS tapes I have in storage to find them was simply too daunting. Instead, I chose another first involving spacecraft; "The Man From Planet X" (1951) which is the first movie to depict an alien from another world visiting Earth. Nicely directed by Edgar G. Ulmer, this is a, mostly, inventive, well thought out movie, with an alien that isn't simply arbitrarilly weird. Short, due to living on a world with a higher atmospheric pressure than our own, the alien tries communicating by emiting a strange tone, and is seen adjusting the gas intake on the breathing apparatus of his bulky spacesuit, a maneuver that later puts him at the mercy of the humans he encounters.

The alien's true visit to earth is ambiguous. It's stated towards the end of the movie that he was preparing for an invasion from his dying homeworld, but when first encountered is not necessarilly a threat. Unlike other alien movies that would quickly follow, one of the humans is the villain here, abusing the alien in order to try and coerce it into giving up its technological secrets. It's only after this point that the alien menaces Sally Field's mother, and other humans.

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