American scientists at an Arctic research station discover a spaceship buried in the ice. Near the crash-landing site, they find what appears to be an extraterrestrial trapped in the ice. Inadvertently, the creature is revived and chaos and mayhem ensure at the remote station, with each individual fighting for his life against this ‘thing from another world.’
Reaction & Thoughts:
I usually say that people who were not present during a film’s initial theatrical run cannot possibly comprehend what it was like to experience the movie in that specific time and space.
Some movies are so much about a specific moment and time that it is impossible for modern eyes to absorb the impact the movie had on its intended audience. Filmmakers don’t make movies for people twenty years into the future; they make movies for the “here” and “now.” Therefore, no matter how brilliant a movie is, there is always going to be something that a new generation of moviegoers will find hard to digest. However, on occasions, certain films retain their original aura and ability to move the audience, despite the passing of time.
The Thing from Another World, written by Charles Lederer, based on John W. Campbell’s short story Who Goes There?, and directed by Christian Nyby, is one of those rare films that have stood the test of time, while other movies from the same era have disappeared into oblivion.
No, this is no longer a scary film, but it is so well made that despite some dated moments, the movie remains an intense viewing experience. Of all the classic horror/science fiction films from the 1950s, The Thing from Another World seems to be the one that is still as effective as ever. It is a quality production all the way and one of the most entertaining films of its type.
Although Howard Hawks only produced the film (rumors persist that he directed sections of the movie), the filmmaker’s influence can be seen all over the place. The fast, over-lapping dialogue, the camaraderie among co-workers, the feisty female character, etc. — these are very Hawksian elements. Remove the monster, and you are left with a fun Hawks movie. That being said, the film’s anti-science attitude is at times jarring. There is zero intellectual curiosity — the idea is to shoot first, ask questions later — and the only character who is aware of the significance of the discovery is portrayed as cold and totally unsympathetic.
The Thing from Another World was beautifully shot by Hawks’s regular Russell Harlan (Red River and Rio Bravo). The great score is by the always-imaginative Dimitri Tiomkin (High Noon). The cast includes Margaret Sheridan (film debut), Kenneth Tobey (It Came from Beneath the Sea), Robert Cornthwaite, Douglas Spencer, and James Arness (TV’s Gunsmoke) as The Thing.
Conclusions & Final Thoughts:
I still maintain that no movie will ever have the same effect on different audiences over a long period of time. This could be a geographical issue or a generation problem. Movies are complete in their form; unchanged and unaltered, unlike the audience that is going to watch them.
Ultimately, I think the only way that a movie could avoid becoming completely dated is if the film in question has the capacity of working on different levels. To me a movie becomes “timeless” when its themes and structure rise above the specific and offer different layers of ideas worth exploring. This is the secret of The Thing from Another World’s undying appeal, and the main reason why more than six decades after its release, the film is still regarded as one of the best examples of the horror/science fiction genre. Remade in 1982, and partially reworked in 2011. B&W, 87 minutes, Not Rated.