Okay, here we are, this is called Battle of the Worlds.
And like Galaxy
Invader, well, I sure have my expectations scaled down from the title.
But, who knows, it might be terrific (pause for maniacal laughter).
So, let’s start. And we get a logo that says “Topaz Film-Corp.” followed by one that says “presents” and then “An ultra film production”! So yes, I am feeling very privileged to witness this fine production. And we are subsequently promised Claude Rains in “Battle of the Worlds.” Oh good. I was sure hoping.
With “Bill Carter” and then some more obviously Italian (and French) names. Placed over a rather desolate landscape and some stars and crap, just so we’re all prepared for cinematic goodness. Because badness would be too damn hard to bear. Or hard to port. (I forget which.)
”George Higgins III” wrote and directed our dialogue, just in case you were perplexed on this point, and we watch some chick in a diaphanous gown run down some steps in a facility right next to a pretty standard cheap-alien-planet-slash-post-apocalyptic-wasteland. You know, whichever of the various Italian sci-fi locations this is supposed to be…this week. Or it could just be a rather ragged-looking beach house.
And as our diaphanous babe runs into a cave, we get the credit that guarantees, uh, quality. “Directed by Anthony Dawson.” We all know that means Antonio Margheriti, famed (in these pages) for one of those Sons of Hercules things and Assignment: Outer Space. So we’re prepared that, while this might be kind of competent, it’s also going to kind of suck. Just so we’re on the same page, here.
So, well, Diaphanous runs down into the cave, which proves to be less of a cave as it leads to a bit of shore, and she calls out to someone (sounds like “Rhett”) and he answers in turn, though he’s currently swimming. He returns to shore, like in a Hercules film, and she runs to meet as he rises from the waves into airier climes. She tells him, “It’s approved!” and how she heard this “five minutes ago, when I was on duty in the laboratory!” She says that “they’re going to let you transfer…and I’m coming with you!” And they both smile the toothiest grins I’ve seen outside animated skulls, and they embrace and plunge into the ocean again. Then they swim to shore while a dog barks, and they bask in the sun for a bit before telling “the old man.” They exult that they’ll be living among “normal people” again.
Which is of course a cue for some spoilsport to waltz on in, and sure enough some buxom redhead in a cloak strides on down, lowering her cloak and seemingly pretty pleased to be bearing (I bet) bad news. Actually, though, she doesn’t, she just gets to look sour at Rhett and Diaphanous’ wedding plans. She does scowl at the barking dog, and mentions that this happens when “the old man stays up at night.” Unlike the rest of us.
”There is something strange in the air, don’t you feel it?” asks Spoilsport. “Or is it just that I’m so sensitive? Are you on the dawn shift too?” she asks Rhett.
”Yes, for the last time, too, on this dull island!” he says, which is Spoilsport’s cue to pull off her robe. Man, those Italians…(I should note she has a swimsuit underneath; this is the 60’s, not the 80’s).
Anyway, she throws her robe aside and goes to the beach, while Diaphanous mentions that this is “the black widow, she never misses an opportunity to stick her nose in other people’s business!”
”Still, that’s good advice she gave us,” Rhett says, about the kissing bit one imagines (Spoilsport said something about kissing). All the while, discordant trumpet jazz continues in the background. They laugh and kiss and dash off as Spoilsport sashays in the background while in her one-piece.
Fade to some scientific stuff, looking to these eyes like telescopic apparatus. Someone is clambering up in the interiors. “George…those meteorites are messing up everything,” says someone in the dubbing booth.
”What do you expect on an August night?” is the reply.
”Take a look yourself, George, before it gets too light.” And some guy gets up from his chair so some other guy (George, I guess) has a look. He sees a pretty primitive PONG display, but he calls out, “Hey Fred, did you see what I see?”
”Yes,” says Fred, “it’s nothing.”
”Holy smokes, Fred!” George shouts as Fred continues down the stairway, then George joins him. “Wait a minute! What do you think it means?”
”I told you, the falling stars are muddling everything. I need some coffee.”
”Skip the coffee, Fred,” George insists, “what can it be?”
”I took some slides,” Fred offers, “we’ll find out in an hour.”
”An hour my foot!” George, ever the panicker, says before he dashes past Fred. “We’ll go to the electronic telescope!”
And we cut to some other authority-clown (mustache and short hair), who is saying, “Precisely! You’ll learn that I’m the kind of man who takes his responsibilities seriously!” And just then Fred and George…who I think were the Weasley twins…show up and start to sputter about their horrid findings with muddling stars and holy smokes and skipped coffee and assorted what-not.
One of them (I’ve already forgotten who) says, as they’re about to begin their meeting of alarming crap, that maybe they should double-check their findings. Well, high time for that, you oaf. Chief Science Man grabs the folder before this double-checking stuff can happen, gets alarmed, and yells at George that he should “come on!” so they can triple check I guess.
Chief Science Man’s Secy asks Fred (the guy who doubted) why “Fish face” was “so excited” but Fred doesn’t have a good answer, really, other than it’s a movie. He says he was trying to avoid “last minute complications” but I bet you girls have all heard that one.
He asks Secy for some coffee, which she provides (in a shelf right above the both of them) and George shows up to make sure Fred hurries up, as some “other observatories” might have “reported something” and you know that just wouldn’t do. So Fred chokes down his coffee and they all rush off to confirm junk, while Dr. Science says, “Don’t forget, Reynolds, that WE have the most powerful equipment in the world!” This is a fairly standard rapper boast, but it sure galvanizes everyone. So they all rush off (as previously mentioned).
”What’s happening, Reynolds?” asks Secy.
”Something terrible!” says George. And they leave. Secy doesn’t look even a tiny bit comforted by this news. But she dutifully puts the coffee back where it was supposed to go. And while discordant jazz plays, she wanders out some kind of side door and looks around at the sky. Woah!
Fred and George wonder if “Pat” has any new information, from other observatories, and Pat says it’s all “just routine.” (I hope this is not Pat Reynolds.) Well, this doesn’t calm the Weasleys at all. They mention some crap about how there are all these thousands of messages, can Pat have looked at them all? He notes how important ones are encoded to indicate their important nature. But there is an important message, from Base 3 on Mars. The message seems to be that, for 97 hours, they’ve been trying to talk but can’t get through. Uh. That’s, like, almost four days. You might think that would rate pretty high, but you would think wrong. Wow does this future suck. Also, how did the “we can’t talk” message get through, if they can’t talk?
In answer to queries about what might be wrong with some place that hasn’t been able to communicate for a long time, Pat says that there’s “nothing important. There’s a magnetic storm raging, with a sodium formation.” He turns and peers ultra-smug at the Weasleys. “Is that what interests you?”
George tells Pat he should take the sodium “and make yourself a bicarbonate!” and they stalk off, apparently having given one of those “up yours!” sayings OF THE FUTURE.
The Weasleys run smack into Dr. Science Man, who, having digested the fact that there’s no news, is told by Secy that “the Old Man must be told.” Well, Dr. Science Man doesn’t want to do this but his lab boys laugh. Even this laughter does nothing to sway the Dr that he cannot tell the Old Man a damn thing without getting fired. But, Fred to the rescue, he strips off his lab coat (revealing space tunics—man, that must have been hot) and tells the assembled heads that he’ll tell the Old Man and suffer the consequences, as “this is my last day here, anyway.” He adds this last bit pretty cheerily.
Pat strides up to ask what is happening, adding, “I’ve never been known to snap at anyone.” (So it can’t be Pat Reynolds.)
And we cut to a terrier type dog, snapping at the world! Man, this comedy stuff seems so hard to do it right, because it made me cry rather than laugh. Anyway, nice little dog, so points there.
And more anyway, Dog was barking at Fred and the voice of the Old Man said “Lie down, Gideon,” and the dog snarled and ran off, so I am going to guess and say Gideon was the dog’s name. Because Fred walks on in without fear of being nipped.
And he walks for a while, through various dioramas and expensive set decorations and gardens and stuff like that, before the familiar voice (and kind of crazed looking face) of Claude Rains says “Come forward Steve, I know all about it!”
And Steve, who I would have bet money was Fred, says, “I don’t understand,” and I don’t either, because he’s Fred and not Steve. Damn that mismatching stock footage!
Anyway, Fred and Claude talk about “the Outsider” which has something to do with the meteor storm and the sodium storm on Mars. I guess. “It’s all written there,” says Claude as Fred bends to study a notebook which contains the script. Claude shuffles around to see how the reading is going. I guess it is going well, because Fred says, “Right! Amazing! How did you do it?”
”Young fellow,” Claude says, gesturing with his cigar, “You and the others have to see and hear! Before you can know! I have one advantage over all of you—calculus! However! I’m glad to see that you at least! Know how to read it!” And he walks off, like some old guy would walk off, having imparted the wisdom of calculus, which, incidentally, some of us failed.
”In spite of the disdain in which I hold all your stupid…and dull, mechanical apparatuses—you think that I don’t examine CAREFULLY the readings that you send me?”
Sir! No sir, sir!
”The difference is, that you accept those readings as results! Whereas for me, they are merely elements in a formula!” He tosses something down, and Fred comes up behind him. “I have been aware of this thing for the last five days,” Claude pronounces, while pumping some apparatus fairly vigorously. “And I have been CURIOUSLY awaiting to see when the rest of you would discover it!”
”It was only just before dawn that we were able to…” starts Fred, but a withering glare from Claude sure shuts him up.
”Ohhhh!” says Claude. “So you didn’t see it, until just before dawn! And didn’t anyone of you notice the change of position of the two outer planets?!”
”Change of position?” asks Fred, just begging for detention (Claude has been waving his teacher’s pointer at him steadily and menacingly).
”Infinitesimal!” Claude says fairly witheringly. “It merely heralded the arrival of the Outsider.” Claude reminds me, a lot, in this movie, of Doctor Who. He’s old and grouchy like William Hartnell and is eccentric and odd like Patrick Troughton.
”Why do you call it the Outsider?” asks Fred.
”Because it comes from another galaxy,” Claude explains, as if talking to the retarded (which he may be). “It simply entered the solar system during the night,” he goes on. During…the…night. Sigh.
Now, this is an Italian movie, so all the dialogue is dubbed (though Claude appears to be doing his own voice), so usually you would expect a dopey chunk of such dialogue to be forced in to match lip movements. But here’s the thing: Claude was off-screen when this glop was dumped. So why was it thrown in? Someone actually liked it, I guess. Creeping into our solar system during the night, wow, they must be fiends behind this!
At some point, some of the other folk have arrived at Claude’s lair. I must have missed it—I bet it happened during the night!
Anyway, Fred notes that no other observatories have reported the Outsider, and Claude explains that this is because they don’t have powerful enough telescopes, but Chief Science Man either agrees or doesn’t agree with the Weasleys. Claude gets all sarcastic about that, though to what end I remain uncertain. I think he’s sorry that he agrees with Chief Science Man, who is kind of a jerk and Claude ain’t no jerk. Claude, in the meantime I should note, is in a greenhouse and is spraying plants. He’s been there the whole time, I just felt I should note it somewhere.
I guess he got some spray on him, because he suddenly looks flustered and wipes at his jumpsuit and tells Fred to stop staring at him and also to get out, and still further that Fred should keep his “trap” shut and he, Claude, has all the info needed about the Outsider and there it is, so leave.
Fred says, “Professor, a foreign body, a planet, the Outsider as you call it, has entered the Solar System [at night, remember] and is heading right for us. Because of its size and particular characteristics, it won’t burn up when it contacts the Earth’s atmosphere. It could be a catastrophe.” Well, yes, that sounds like a definite catastrophe.
Claude congratulates him on summarizing the plot so far, and suggests he try out for the All Italian Summarize Proust Competition next year. Fred wonders about, you know, warning people, but Claude reminds him that he (Claude) has suggested that he (Fred) keep his “trap” shut, also that he should get out of here. To emphasize this finality of parting, actor Claude Rains puts away his plant sprayer as a way of, you know, acting.
Fred, all smugly hostile, says that he will leave “with pleasure” because he’s also “come here to say goodbye.”
”Oh, if only I had a handkerchief, I’d burst into tears,” Claude says, lighting his cigar. Yeah, but what about the world’s tiniest violin, eh? Eh?
As Claude starts pumping again and Fred leaves, Claude notes how the “idiots on Mars” should have noticed this situation, but “since they’re all army…” he lets his hippie conclusion trail off.
Fred notes that Mars is “surrounded by a magnetic storm, with the formation of sodium,” so the Mars folks wouldn’t have seen a thing. You know…sodium and all that.
Claude chuckles. “Well, that’s not a bad alibi!”
And we cut to the forbidding surface of miniature effects…I mean, MARS…being buffeted by a magnetic storm. A SODIUM magnetic storm, I will have you snickerers note! I thought that would quiet you.
Anyway, within the complex, the stock footage folk are trying to contact someone, but not having much luck. But Fred calls them and gets right through. He tells them that he is “leaving the island” and that he’s going to get married. Congrats are offered all around on the storm-blasted Red Planet, but it is noted that this is “a bad time” because there’s a transport coming in to land and stuff so they’re kind of busy. Fred blurts out that he has another message, in code, and he’s going to transmit it now. Some burly types try to stop him, but he transmits anyway.
On Mars, they all chuckle over Fred’s childish indulgences, while one gal goes to de-encode this new message. If it’s some Italian crap about speedboats or pasta I will yell a lot.
But…no matter. Remember that transport in trouble? They’re off course by twelve degrees! That’s almost three doctorates. So everyone is worried a lot, and even the stock footage looks ominous. Mars calls the stock footage, on the stock footage-o-rama-phone, and they all moan about how this was pretty unexpected and sad and stuff. Yawn.
The ships request permission to go manual, and are granted this permission, and all looks well for a while, until the miniatures apparently run into trouble. (Note: those darn miniatures!) Mars Gal 1 hands Fred’s coded message to Mr. Mars Master, and this apparently contains disturbing stuff, because Mr. Mars Master sure looks worried. He calls the approaching ships and gives them new numbers.
These numbers seem little comfort, though, as the ships are all stressed and still (one guesses) heading for certain discomfort. Mr. Mars Master gives all the guys new headings which—he hopes! will solve all problems everywhere. We, not being twenty minutes in, have little hope of lives being saved, but high hopes of spectacular explosions. Or something of interest. Damn, don’t be haters!
So, the crews of the ships see the new planet, all of a sudden (like everyone else). There are some alternative plans on Mars, but too boring—too! Boring! Must type! Interesting things!
So, some crew get rescued, others get sacrificed. It would be damned sad if we cared. Since we don’t, it is just footage. “Don’t you understand, boy, that the fields of attraction have undergone an incredible modification?” someone asks.
Apparently the answer is “No” since the rogue ships bust onto the surface of…well, the Outsider, I guess. Or a tin-foil version of Mars. This goes on for a while, and, you know, I failed to care much (because of boringness).
Except, not. Whoever crashed and died on that lonely moon wasn’t anyone we know, or have seen in footage. The pilot and his crew are fine. Oh…great. Yes, that is swell. We are all breathing easily.
So, here we are. The Radio Guy thanks Mr. Mars Leader for letting him (Radio Guy) help to rescue his son. And Mr. Mars Leader is all, that is way cool. With appropriate harrumphs and stuff to show his authority and sundry what-nots. And Mars Base 3 calls Earth to let everyone know that all is well.
And we fade in on some hot chick…who we have probably seen before...telling Claude that all is peachy now, since Mars is safe. Claude, though, remains the skeptic with a check in the bank. He is pretty bummed out about the lives saved. Chick mentions them as a positive outcome. He poo-poos this as futile. They then argue about how she was trained by him but isn’t as good as he, because she lets compassion and stuff alter how she thinks rather than just use facts and numbers and those sorts of things. He is all, people getting killed is the way the world works, while she is all, well, I love compassion.
He talks about how “popularity contests” are for losers, if you follow his starring role, I mean, logic, then his logic becomes clear. Only someone uncertain of his facts tries to win people over to his side; facts make people, um, not so popular. Hence, he is the first ignorable Doctor Who. There is no prize for this.
In order to bridge the awkwardness of the moment, Claude asks Eve for a report, which she then gives him. “Goodbye, Eve,” he says coldly, and she leaves. He crouches down in the greenhouse to read the report (okay) and is suitably impressed, saying that it confirms everything. Even bees? He calls out for Eve, apparently being so absent-minded that he forgot he dismissed her about twenty seconds ago. A small dog (Gideon?) gets out of its bed and goes somewhere. “Ah,” Claude says, apparently satisfied on some point. (The dog and Claude were not in the same shot, also, we don’t know but maybe this is another dog named Eve.)
Fade to Eve (who was also Diaphanous earlier) and (I think) Fred outside in the night, looking at a house. “Five minutes to go, Doctor Steele,” someone inside shouts. Fred takes this moment to light a cigarette.
”Fred, we can’t go,” Eve says and when pressed, says that all the crap that’s happening is “bigger than we are.”
Fred notes how this is happening everywhere, including New York, Moscow and tiny African villages. He looks right at the camera when he says this and seems pretty darned pleased to be talking about ultimate doom. He says that the important thing is that they face horrible death together.
Eve seems to feel this is wise after all, and she’s really sorry, but she’s not going to go with him. He gets miffed and says he’s going to go anyway. The lady from earlier (Spoilsport) shows up and tells them not to fight, as neither one is leaving; the shouting guy shows up and shouts that all flights have been cancelled anyway. He then runs off camera. Ms. Smug tells them that all scientists have been mobilized and officialdom is on fire. She also laughs and tells them that “the Old Man” (Claude) has been “severely reprimanded.” She’s pretty happy about this.
And we cut to Claude talking to a whole batch of flunkies and scientists (including Mr. Science Master) (also including Eve the Dog), saying, “Reprimanded! I have been reprimanded!”
Mr. Science Master says this is because the big politicos need a scapegoat, and since Claude didn’t tell anyone what he (apparently) knew about weeks ago, and now folks are panicking, he’s to be the scapegoat. Claude is not happy you can imagine. He says he said nothing because he knew he wouldn’t be believed. “It’s not difficult to tell the truth, but it’s impossible to be believed.” O…kay. Fred and Eve the Woman have shown up in the meantime.
He walks over to a tree or a totem pole or something, which is right where Eve the Dog is standing, and he points at some writing on this tree thing (all the while, Eve the Dog is sniffing at his hand) and he says the Outsider will NOT collide with Earth. Then he calls the dog “Gideon” and tells him to get out of the way, so the other science folks can read the tree. So this dog is Gideon again, and not Eve. This may be on the test so take notes.
Claude walks around his greenhouse and looks at all the folks, including Ms. Smug, Fred and George and Eve the Woman, who is now just Eve. Mr. Science Master says, “Professor Benson, you maintain—“
”I maintain nothing!” Claude says witheringly. “I ascertain.” Having made this distinction, he says that the Outsider will bypass the Earth at a distance of ninety-five thousand miles. Now, that might sound like a lot, but if the Outsider is massive enough, it might as well smash into the Earth while it’s in the neighborhood, because passing that close will have catastrophic consequences. The Moon is a quarter of a million miles away from us, and its gravitational pull is enough to give us tides. An actual planet getting closer to us would probably trigger massive earthquakes, tidal waves, and maybe even rip away some of our atmosphere. So I see little cause to break out the champagne.
Dr. Science Master says that lots of other impressive sounding folks have differing opinions, but Claude says the only opinion that interests him is his (Claude’s). And he says, “One would say, ladies and gentlemen, that you are disappointed to learn that the end of the world has been postponed!” Well, it hasn’t (see above) but that doesn’t stop us from fading to black.
And we fade in on some space center, where the area is being cleared so a spaceship can land. It does, through some rather quick editing, and some military folks meet the pilots (who are a husband and wife team).
As they walk through the facility, they note the “waves of suicides” all across the globe as the Outsider nears, and the panic because no one knows where it will strike. In order to stem some of this panic, they’ve put out the story that Claude’s theory (“it will miss us”) is correct, though everyone knows it’s full of holes and is basically useless. Claude Rains, though, is our star so he’s going to be right one bets. I am still skeptical that it will make any difference.
Anyway, the military has the idea of destroying the Outsider, and these space folks have worked out a method by which this can be accomplished. General is pretty pleased and says they can all compare data. If I’m remembering this correctly, these may be the same folks who were saved earlier when Mars Base helped them to land safely. General mentions how Captain was the first guy to see the Outsider, which would tie in with this earlier (people) sighting.
General says that Captain’s “nomination” to be in charge of the Whop That Outsider Project has led to some good publicity.
”Today we are facing an adversary just as much to be feared as the Outsider—public opinion,” says the General.
”But the truth is—“ says the Captain.
”We cannot afford to split hairs,” the General interrupts. “From now on, we can only rely…on one thing,” he continues …and we fade out before we can learn what this one thing is.
We get a pan across a sort of cloudy sky and inside, Mrs. Smug and Fred struggle to awaken (I hear ya) and Fred excitedly calls out to Eve, who ignores him and runs down the ramshackle stairs toward Claude’s greenhouse.
Ms. Smug tells Fred that he shouldn’t bother about her, as he (Fred) no longer matters to her (Eve). Wow, a major plot development, and we missed it! Thank you, movie!
Eve runs to Claude and tells him the great news that the Outsider has missed the Earth, and has started to orbit it. Well, he’s pretty pleased until she mentions the orbiting part.
She, seeing this, gets worried too, and then all the science flunkies show up as well to offer their congrats. “Stand back, you madmen,” Claude says, “and give me your reports.” They give him some stuff that’s already been bound and printed in hardback. Now that’s efficiency!
He says, in short version, that for the first time he’s made an error. Fred wonders if this is a good reason to poop on the party that will probably form. Claude says 1) that he has never had any respect for Fred, and 2) Fred is right this time. He takes a long time to smoke his cigar and finally he speaks to Dr. Science Master. He tells him to tell the world leaders that “the Outsider must be destroyed, and immediately!”
And we cut to the Outsider (I guess, still looks like tin-foil) with an ominous soundtrack. Cut to Captain, his wife and several others, who are all compiling information on the Outsider, none of which seems to add up to anything which doesn’t make them worried. They think they should send Claude to rustle up some more concrete data for them. And they still think it should be destroyed, but they are a little leery of using atomics as it might cause some bad chain reactions.
Meanwhile, back on Earth, Eve is pleased to get a visit from Claude. He is all suited up in a jacket and tie and stuff. He’s pretty bummed out and weary as she hands him the latest report. “You know what is the most tiring thing of all, Eve? Having to communicate, and explain, when the important thing is to know.” Yes, those other stupid human lifeforms sure get in the way of a good old self-satisfied crank rant, don’t they? He asks Eve if she loves her neighbor (in a general way, not looking for gossip) and says he would love to toss the lot of other humans to the Devil. But then, who would he be smug to?
So they both go off to “enjoy the show” but he doesn’t “know the way” so she takes him there. It’s a room with stark lighting and all the science folks, and everyone is deferential to him. He is even offered coffee by Ms. Smug, which he refuses. “I’ve come to drink a cup of gall,” he says, then asks Dr. Science Master if he is sure he (DSM) told the high council that he (Claude) thinks this is all a waste of time? Dr. Science Master says yes sir, Mr. Claude sir, but knowing bureaucrats it didn’t do any good.
So they all watch a rocket speed toward the Outsider on the video-scope-o-thon. Claude is impressed with the clarity of the image. Glad someone is. They all settle down to watch TV OF THE FUTURE. Dr. Science Master notes how the best scientists, ever, are on board the ship, and Claude sarcastically asks why he, DSM, isn’t on board. Dr. Science Master ignores the slight and says the ship will go to seventy-five miles off the surface of the Outsider. Claude, clearly worried, asks for a repeat of this info, and then asks for a match to light his cigar. Many hands provide flame.
On board the ship, everything is going well, with them making their studies and such and it all looks good. Back on Earth, Claude notes how it “looks like a kid’s show” and Ms. Smug laughs pretty sycophantically.
Suddenly, the Earth ship is…um, attacked, I guess…by a fleet of tiny flying saucers. The Earth people quickly turn around and run away, but the little saucers are too quick. We get a brief shot of Captain, on Earth, yelling why he wasn’t allowed on board to command, but General says Look and the little saucers shoot rays into the Earth ship, and it blows up. (I think Captain’s wife was on board, so that is kind of sad.) Having blown up the Earth ship, the little saucers return to the Outsider planet.
”Well,” Claude says, “you’ve all seen. And I’ve had my satisfaction. I made no error in calculus. The Outsider should not have gone into orbit. Since it did, it’s because there was a voluntary modification.” Well…yeah. That’s pretty obvious now. Any reason why you didn’t speak up before, Claude?
”You said, voluntary?” Dr. Science Master asks.
”Precisely,” Claude says. Then he asks to be put in touch with the ultra politicians. And everyone but Claude leaves the room. He turns to the screen, and there is a guy there on the monitor. “I am Benson,” Claude says. “I want to speak to you. It’s about time I did.”
”No one has ever prevented you,” the guy on the TV says.
”I want to be listened to, then,” Claude says, in danger of becoming animated.
”It depends on what you say,” says Mr. TV.
”It’s very serious,” Claude says. “Your days are numbered.”
”Just a moment,” says Mr. TV. “I prefer that you speak before the United Commission.” He flicks a few dials, and the screen goes dark. Uh, wrong button? Claude paces and frets and starts writing stuff on the floor, in chalk.
As he does, another face appears on the TV screen. This is an older man, but I bet he is not the United Commission. “Professor Benson,” this new person says politely, while the music is somewhat discordant electronic tones. As Claude looks from monitor to monitor, other faces appear, including an oriental one. Claude looks around and stands to recover his dignity.
”Gentlemen,” Claude says, “you have exactly eight hundred and forty hours left,” (Thirty five days, if you don’t have a calculator handy), “in which to act. In the meantime, the Outsider will be tightening its orbit around the Earth. It will descend to a distance of forty-five thousand miles from the Earth’s surface, and then—“
”What proofs do you have?” one of the TV folk asks. As if Claude’s “being right a lot” isn’t enough proof!
”You’ll find them written there,” Claude says gesturing at something off camera (the chalk on the floor, maybe). “I take it for granted you know how to read,” he says witheringly.
The Chinese guy says they’ll check over this stuff, and Claude says there will be lots of bad stuff happening. Some other Talking Head says Claude is concerned about the human race, but Claude objects and says he is “not moved by humanitarian motives.”
So the talking heads want to know just what DOES motivate him. “I want to know the truth!”
”That’s hidden! Inside! The nucleus! Of! The Outsider!” Claude says dramatically. “I’ll make you a deal,” he says, and says that he has already determined that “deep inside” the Outsider there are “conscious beings.” Gosh, you mean the kind that might build flying saucers? With death rays? Oh, please do tell on in tedious detail! He goes on to note that these beings come “from another galaxy, fugitives perhaps, from a dying world.”
One talking head says that means the Outsider is “a kind of survivor’s raft.”
”That’s a colorful description,” Claude says indulgently, “but it states the case. These space survivors are attracted to the Earth’s life-giving warmth.” Uh…that warmth actually comes from the Sun, Claude. “Very well, then,” he says after a pause, “I present you with the possibility of saving the human race. That is, to put it bluntly, I will save your lives for you.” He says this with a lot of emphasis on the “I” part. “Yours! And yours! And yours!” he says to the TV monitors. “On one condition. That you give me the necessary means for studying and uncovering the Outsider’s secret.”
”What means, Professor Benson?” asks one of the TV personalities.
Ol’ Claude takes the opportunity to serve up the ham in even thicker slices. “I ask…to have the absolute command…of all operations invested in my hands.” I’m not even sure what that means, but the TV personalities all fade out as Claude paces around the room. Is that a “yes” or a “no”?
Claude sinks into a chair and rubs his hand over his forehead, as Eve enters the room. She puts her hand on his shoulder. “Professor?”
He looks up and gives a little bitter laugh. “I scared them all away,” he says.
She asks if he wants her to walk him back to the house, and he thinks this sounds good. So they get ready to leave, but the lights start blinking. One of the TV Guys comes back and congratulates Claude—it seems he got the highest science award ever! Hooray. But they turned down his request to be in command of all operations. It seems they feel the Outsider’s actions constitutes an attack, so the military is going to handle everything. “This is war,” says Mr. TV.
”Well, I’m not of draft age,” Claude says, and he and Eve leave. Draft beer, though, that sounds good.
After a brief shot of either the Outsider or the Sun, we cut to some military place where the General from Earlier is explaining how everything is going go to a group of other generals and some important looking civvies, including the Pilot and his Wife, also from Earlier (so she didn’t die on the exploded ship). During the whole talk, everyone around looks impatient, like they’re waiting for their cues or are otherwise bored. Farting.
General Earlier points out that there will be missiles and a space ship as part of their counter-attack. He says that (and the dubbing here is pretty bad) “this automatic planet was conceived by our military” and that it will be piloted by Pilot, and a lot is riding on his shoulders. They built a planet? Oh wait, upon rewinding (what I do for you folks) it seems he said “automatic PLAN,” ie, they’ve got everything computerized. Okay then, why, that never fails, so, great!
General Earlier also tells some blonde guy that they’re depending on him, “as chief of the psychological bureau,” to “unleash every propaganda means at your disposal to tranquilize public opinion.” Blonde says he’ll do this. I sure hope we get to watch!
Well, that sounds good enough for General Earlier I guess, as he says “Gentlemen,” and the meeting breaks up. People shuffle off camera awkwardly as we pan over to Pilot and his Wife.
Tender music starts up at Pilot and his Wife go off to talk together. She worries that General Earlier is oversimplifying stuff, and then she goes on about how they got married because computers said they were suited to each other. He’s a bit puzzled by all this, but she says that despite their electronic pairing, she’s glad they’re together because she loves him. They embrace, and she says she’d like to have a house, and kids. He says that sure wasn’t part of the computer love service. But that’s okay, and she goes on to say that she wants to go up with him, and be by his side. There’s some mention of how there are “only eight hundred”-odd hours left.
It goes on for a while, but I think the main thing is how important Love is. So, remember how important love is and we can all go home early.
Cut to Claude reading a book while relaxing in a hammock. He’s interrupted by Fred, who explains that he knows what the plan is. It sounds like they’re going to fire some missiles as a diversion, then attack with more missiles. It is presented in a more complicated format than this, but that seems the gist of it. Claude says it is a stupid plan since it isn’t based on total science. Fred needs his permission to go, and Claude is reluctant to give this, since this is a “dangerous mission, or as they say in such cases, a hopeless one.”
Eve pops up just then and Claude sarcastically introduces Fred as “a hero.” Fred goes out of his way to say that any Love Action between he and Eve was all nonsense, and Claude laughs at how Fred is all pretending he doesn’t feel that old Love Action for Eve. Eve, for her part, looks pretty hurt that Fred is being all gruff, but you know chicks. They are always emotional. Claude said so, and he was only wrong once. Fred is trying real hard to be all stony and not-caring, but Claude laughs even more.
Claude says that human emotions are the only things in nature which are inconsistent. Gideon barks at this news but Claude requests him to hush up, and Gideon runs off.
Claude gives Fred permission to leave for the attack, and he adds, “I’ve just had an idea. Naturally, it’s a great one.” Say whatever you will about Claude, he sure doesn’t suffer from false modesty, no sir. We zoom in on his book, which we can’t read--
Cut to a starry sky, with several Earth rockets going toward the Outsider. Flying Saucers appear and destroy several of the Earth rockets. Fred demands that the “automatic plan” be disconnected, but Pilot shouts that this would be an act of “insubordination.” All the while, the saucers are getting nearer. So the co-pilot cuts the computer control (this is noted instantly in command central). Fred tells Pilot to ram one of the saucers. Pilot gives Fred this look, and Fred says, “Don’t look at me like that, I’m not insane!” No, not much I guess.
Pilot goes ahead and rams the saucer, and it explodes and destroys the universe.
…ha ha, just kidding. Actually, it starts spinning, and all the other saucers start falling toward the planet. “They’ll burn up in the atmosphere,” someone tells General Earlier. Well, um…that was sure a close one.
The Earth rocket is also spinning, so Pilot cuts the engines so as to stop that nonsense.
By the way, before the ramming, Claude and the other ladies (Eve and Spoilsport) were all watching in horror. Claude, however, was pretty calm. ”Wait a few seconds, my dear, before you put me on the rack,” he said. And be sure to put him in the lower rack, with the dishes, not the silverware thing or where the glasses go.
So, Fred guessed correctly that without the computer or radio, the Saucers couldn’t see the ship, and they were thus defeated; Earth is triumphant (Pilot tersely tells Fred to shush up, as it is his ship) and the Generals are happy (they are all about how this is Pilot’s triumphant hour). Oh, and Earth ship still spinning. But Pilot starts the engines and all is well…for them. “What about the disk?” asks Pilot. Wife (I think) says that it should be okay, as long as it “doesn’t have a pilot, like we do.”
The Earth rocket starts back to Earth, and Claude rips the cigar from his mouth and orders that High Command be contacted. He tells them that the Flying Saucer that is spinning should be recovered at all costs. He also tells Eve that she should get Fred’s report. I’m kind of interested in that, too, since Fred seemed to know intuitively what to do. Claude then leaves, but says that anyone who doesn’t want to listen to him can “all go to hell.” Ouch!
General Earlier and Mr. Propaganda watch the Flying Saucer. It straightens out its spin and “is planing!” according to General. That means it’s going to crash, I guess, and they’re all excited about finally seeing what sort of creatures inhabit the Outsider. Well, I could have told them, “mean ones” but no one asked me.
Cut to a smoky ditch where the Saucer has crashed. On the hillside, Fred, Pilot and Wife are standing by, and then someone else comes up and says, “We’ve forced an entry, sir.” So our intrepid trio enters the crashed miniature. I think this is done through “table top” effects; it sure looks that way.
Inside, everything is bathed in red lighting. Evidently, these are red mean aliens. Everyone proceeds with caution, guns at the ready. Fred calls Claude and tells them they’ve searched everywhere, but the Saucer seems deserted.
”Who’d you expect to see,” Claude spits, “your grandmother?” Gosh, Claude, I personally thought a cheap-looking alien, but if you’re going to go all sarcastic, I’ll never mind. Since you’re so smart, though, if you have an insight, now would be a good time I think...except that you love to watch things and say, “I knew that was going to happen,” and be all smug about it. Anyway, “Look harder!” is his advice.
The Fred Guys come to a central chamber, where there is a translucent tube with spindly legs stuck to two round globes at either end. The legs go up into the ceiling and down into the floor. Fred describes this to Claude, who is really excited. “It’s there!” he says.
”What is?” asks Fred.
”The cipher!” Claude says in triumph. He asks that they bring this structure to him. And through the magic of fading, they apparently do, as there’s a glassy thing with flashing lights right in the middle of Claude’s greenhouse which was not there in earlier scenes.
Everyone is studying the annoying thing (it whines) except Claude, who reclines in his hammock. “That’s not it, Cornfield [Dr. Science Master], I detest your stupid gadgets, but at least I know that you should raise the frequency and reduce the wavelength.” (Note: I don’t think it works that way. I think that’s like saying, you should raise the temperature and reduce the heat. But then, I’m not Claude so I’m probably wrong.)
”That’s as far as it can go, Professor,” Dr. Science Master protests.
”You mean, as far as YOU can go,” Claude quips, as Eve appears in the background. She brings him report about radioactivity, which he finds quite readable. “The Outsider is closing in,” he avers, and we cut to a grainy sky shot of something.
Apparently, a solar eclipse, which of course causes volcanic eruptions and forest fires. According to the best minds that the University of Stock Footage has.
In the greenhouse, someone tells Fred that he should “listen” and Fred does this. And though it just sounds like the same electronic noise to me, keener minds than ours—Claude’s, of course—hear something troubling. Which he is too unsure to share with us, so we get more stock footage of tidal waves and tornados. Then, brief shots of Fred and Company still trying to figure out crap, Claude ripping his cigar from his own mouth with determination, lightning, storms, hurricane winds, Fred and Company, Gideon…this is just a cornucopia of random footage, especially edited for the Random Footage Fan. A pity he left about an hour ago.
Out in a rainstorm, someone notes to someone else that there are only two hundred and sixteen hours left for Claude to save them all. Another person notes how yucky this rain is. “The abrupt end everyone expected would have been better,” says the first speaker. Well, if you say so. Everyone runs back into the rain after his pronouncement. Then they find some more bushes to continue their arguments.
(These folks are all heavily raincoated, hence the difficulties in determining identity. But I think this bunch is Pilot [doomsayer], Fred, Eve and some other lady [Pilot’s Wife, maybe].)
”Most things happen unexpectedly, even the apocalypse,” Fred says.
”I have faith in Benson [Claude] the mathematician,” Pilot says, “but in Benson the cannon-maker…” He lets this trail off as they all go to find another bush. Actually, they’ve finally made it to an actual building. And they were only soaked an additional twenty seconds than if they’d just run straight there without stopping for all that exposition.
”Don’t be disturbed by the welcome you get,” Fred tells them all before they go inside. “The old man hates polite chatter, and has no sense of hospitality.”
They all go inside, and Pilot’s Wife (yes, it’s her) asks Eve, “Excuse me, but…have you two made up?”
Eve looks uncomfortable. “We haven’t had time…or the opportunity.” Uh, there’s an echo in here…doesn’t that mean the same thing?
”There’s only one thing out of step with the times, Eve,” Wife says. “Love.” See? Remember how I told you? Wife asks for forgiveness, but Eve is grateful. Wife confesses that she’s afraid, not of suffering, but of bad things happening to her husband.
Just then Fred appears and asks if they’re coming along or what. They decide that yes, yes they are coming along, so they all leave this set and go to another one.
Claude rises and greets everyone, and is quite charming (about the only time in the film that he is, so far). And yes, the other woman is confirmed as Pilot’s Wife. He asks if they have any kids, and Pilot says not yet but someday. Um, there’s only two hundred odd hours left, so you should probably get started….
Everyone sits down, and Claude calls for Mrs. Collins. “I think that the moment has come for you to offer some of your delicious coffee,” he tells the woman we’ve known variously as Spoilsport and Ms. Smug and probably other names. Dr. Science Master also shows up. “Mrs. Collins is so good,” Claude says, “Psychic, you know!” Other folks show up. “And these are my kids, my collaborators I should say.” He introducers Dr. Science Master, who gets a closeup. Claude then offers cigars, but only gives himself one. Dozens of hands with lighters appears, but he uses his own match. He then asks for music.
Pilot is sure glad about all this hospitality, but thinks things ought to be gotten on with. Claude goes on about the “music of the spheres” and what-not, so I’m suspecterating that this is some lead-up to his deciphering of the alien stereo from the saucer. But before he does this, he goes on about how mathematic language is so much better than spoken language, and anyone who can’t talk math should be sneered at, etc. But then he jumps to the point about how they’ve deciphered the language of the Outsider. And Pilot can order the saucers to destroy themselves. Claude points to various machines in the greenhouse.
”Oscillators!” Pilot says.
”Precisely,” says Dr. Science Master. “The highest of frequencies. Wavelengths six millimeters.”
”Cornfield!” shouts Claude. “You’re wonderful!” He orders everyone to turn on the oscillators, and they all whine. “I will write the score,” Claude says, “and you will play it! Watch this!”
And we cut to outer space, where some Earth rockets are going toward the outsider, and the Outsider’s deadly saucers are flying to the defense. There is a lot of intercutting between the two forces, before one saucer fires at one rocket and misses.
Inside, either Pilot or Fred (it’s hard to tell them apart when they’ve got their hats on) is all smug, and says “Now it’s our turn!” And he asks the assembled scientists on Earth to provide “music!”
Many hands start twisting dials, and the saucers start spinning off rays, and shooting at each other (which doesn’t harm them), and finally just spinning off into space, like they don’t care about nothing. Everyone seems happy at this turn of events.
And we get more footage of the saucers just spinning off, while the Earth rockets continue on. Finally, the saucers all gather together and spin as a mass, then start flaming and explode.
And we cut to Claude, talking to TV Heads, and saying “No, not yet!”
On television, a rather severe looking guy is saying that the military mission to destroy the Outsider is proceeding apace; Claude objects that “I want to discover the whole truth!” Other television personalities object that the Outsider is still a danger, and it isn’t Claude’s personal property, and besides they want to destroy it. “Very well,” he says, rising, “you deserve what’s coming to you.”
”What do you mean?”
”You have studied the planet’s surface, but you have not torn open its bowels—“ Ew! “—which spewed forth the discs that I destroyed. That’s where the truth is hidden—deep inside! You will destroy an unopened tin can, and that tin can will blow up in your hands!”
”Do you really think there is someone inside?”
Claude grins and shakes his head. “More than someone,” he says smugly. “Gentlemen, I will give you more than a guarantee… for the first time, the first time in my scientific life, I will come out of my den, prepare to pay with my person.” And we fade to black, and then fade to another Earth rocket in space. I guess that means Claude is going to visit the Outsider. Well, maybe he’ll be nicer to it than he is to his fellow people.
Sure enough, we pan across the crew (Fred, Eve, Pilot, Wife), and Claude is among them. The landing goes without incident (except another camera pan). Eve asks how he feels, and Claude says, “Like I never felt before, my dear.”
Pilot notes how the radiation on the Outsider is quite high. So they have to, um, wear suits and things. Pilot notes how Claude has to obey him, Pilot. “Aye, aye, sir,” Claude notes wryly. Pilot then reminds us all that the Outsider will be destroyed in three hours.
”What a pity,” Claude says, “my watch is always slow.” No one seems to find this really funny (count me in) and so they all unstrap and prepare to explore.
Eve says that he should wear the double helmet, like the others, but Claude poo-poos this notion. She then says, “Your glasses, Professor?” And he looks like this was just the greatest suggestion ever. “To see the truth?” he notes. Then puts on his helmet. Well, I’m sure that all made sense in the old country.
Outside, our space-suited team are noting various salient facts about the orb upon which they are trying, unconvincingly, to pretend they are walking. “Turn back, Professor!” says Pilot. Claude turns and looks askance at this suggestion, and Pilot notes that it would take months to find the entrance to the bowels of the planet. But he has not counted on Claude being not only a super-genius but also the star.
”Oh, shut up,” Claude says, “I know the way.” And he goes on. And they all follow, when he notes how he’s “following the signal.” They walk on a bit, and Claude points at the camera and says, “The disks. They took off from here.”
”That’s all there is, let’s go back,” says Pilot Spoilsport. Claude gives him the glance of contempt he deserves, before dialing his oscillator and opening up a hidden door, which reveals a room full of, er, hanging entrails and intestines, I guess. (I suppose this is the “bowels” he was talking about.) The camera tracks into this room, while our cast walks into a more prosaic cave. Though they do pass some tubes strung into walls, and later, there is an attempt to show them entering the bowel room (also through “table top” I think).
Finally, they get to a room which is covered in blinking lights. “There they are,” says Claude. We get a nice pan across the lights, before Claude adds, “Dead creatures.”
Others look upon this vista with awe. I‘ll just note here that most of the party have different colored helmets. Why is never stated. As for the set, it looks like a typical “lava” set, all shiny and red. There don’t seem to be any creatures, live or dead, but perhaps the print is really bad.
Claude notes how there isn’t anything to fear, now, as we pan across the rather wetly glistening walls. Claude mentions that these creatures came from one of the “higher” galaxies, but their journey was all for naught. ”This planet, which was intended as their Noah’s Ark, has become their tomb.”
Claude is asked what killed them, and Claude says, “Time” and goes on about if they’d just found some swell world where there weren’t humans, well, who knows? Etc. Well, they all decide to walk around the foil-and-light covered walls, and, um, walk around.
”Radioactivity,” Claude muses, holding a cube near (what looks like some kind of) central control bulb. He mutters something else which I didn’t catch because I was wondering if Charlie Brown would ever defeat the kite-eating tree.
Pilot gets a call saying that the “Benson Expedition” should evacuate (evacuate? In the bowels? Ew!) right away, and Pilot says they will do so, but Claude has more acting in him.
”Not yet!” he says regarding the evacuation. “Don’t you understand, you crazy fools? That their plans to survive their death would have set them down on the Earth uselessly? Those plans are condensed in something here which we must find! Then, we shall be able to penetrate the secret of their immortal formulas!”
Then, just as always happens, “High Command” says it’s time to leave, and Claude runs through a doorway not covered in tinfoil, and some other folks follow after him, and Pilot says that he can’t leave anyone behind, those are his orders! So lots of folks run after Claude on his mad errand. They want to be stars too I guess. Pilot’s orders fall on deaf ears and everyone runs off.
Lots of footage of people running through corridors, and past tubes, and into sparks and stuff. Just so you get the idea that it is all alien and eerie. Claude finds some kind of swell nexus where his readings are the best. And in the background, Eve is yelling for Claude, and Fred comes and tells her they’ve got to go. Claude smiles broadly at this bit of love triumphant, before he turns and points his PDA at the nerve net.
Lots of odd-angled footage of folks running around the tube-tunnels, and then Claude finding the “electronic brain.” It turns out to be an exact duplicate of the stereo system he had removed from the crashed saucer. “The truth! I’m nearing it!” he shouts, and I’m glad I rewound because at first I thought he said, “I’m nailing it!” and that seemed pretty NSFW.
Others call Claude and urge him to come back, as he will be killed for this “truth” he seeks. “What importance does life have, young fellow,” he tells Fred, “if to live means not to know!”
”We don’t want to know, Benson, we want to live!” Fred answers, and this makes Claude laugh like a maniac. This laughter is reflected through the various structures we’ve seen in the planet. “Watch out, Eve!” Claude yells. “The Outsider is defending itself!”
The others are all proceeding back to the surface, and then earthquakes wrack the tunnels, and some tubes and stuff collapse, the walls shake, and ladies scream. Rocks fall. In numerous shots, all over everything.
On board…uh, a rocket…maybe the one which landed, a guy like Pilot is yelling at General Earlier to “stop the plan!” (of destruction) but the General said this is impossible.
”Cowards! We’re cowards!” Guy who kind of looks like Pilot says. (Did I mention that when they have their hats on, it is hard to tell them apart? Oh good.) “Shouldn’t have left them there alone,” this guy goes on. “’Specially me,” he adds. He flips on his communicator. “Void to Commander Cole,” he says, a couple of times. “In the name of God, answer me!”
And we see some folks walking through the now calm Outsider tunnels. And the guy who actually IS Pilot says, “We’ve run around in a circle. Let’s get out of here!” And some more crap collapses, and he yells, “Spread wahela in the cave! We’ve reached it!”
But just then, that nasty Outsider planet tosses a rock at Pilot’s Wife, who collapses. No one is happy. On board the ship, Pilot-Looking Guy says they will not leave until everyone is on board. Pilot’s Wife urges them all to leave her, but Pilot refuses. Guy Who Looks Pilotesque says, “My son Lewis and two others are coming to get you!” and this guy who is sitting next to him undoes his seatbelt in anticipation of this rescue effort.
In the bowels, Pilot’s Wife is still asking the others to abandon her. She makes a special appeal to Eve. General Earlier says there’s less than a minute and he can’t stop it. The rescue folks are now on the surface, walking (not very rapidly) back to the Earth rocket. Pilot Looking Guy appeals for a few more seconds.
In the command room, General Earlier tosses his hat down and looks really sad. He walks among the crew corridors, and orders that the special missiles be launched. And they are. He sure looks guilty as stock footage goes into action.
Remember Claude? Yes, we all do. “I have the formula,” he says, “I know the truth! Now I can order the Outsider to go away! Stop your useless missiles!”
In space, some Earth rocket is making tracks. Not sure who that is, though, as we cut inside the “Benson Expedition” ship, where Pilot’s Wife (Cathy) is being seen to, and the Pilot Looking Guy orders “Engines!” and the ship takes off.
Pilot holds his wife’s hand. “Hold on, dearest. You can’t die. You can’t die!” Well, not this late in the game, one hopes. But she looks kind of lost. Pilot shouts “Cathy!” over and over. Man, if she dies at the last stupid minute….
Pilot Looking Guy talks to the radio and says they’re approaching “safety distance” and Eve says, sadly, “Goodbye, Professor!” as missiles streak toward the Outsider.
Intercut with missile action is Claude, in closeup. He seems to know what is about. ”Now, you won’t know,” he says. “You’ll never know, now!”
More intercutting, and finally the Outsider explodes in animated flame.
”Poor Benson,” says Pilot Looking Guy. “If they opened up his chest, they’d find a formula, where his heart should have been.”
And we cut to a long shot of his greenhouse, then inside, where Gideon paws at the window. And THE END appears on the screen.
And we get more credits. Production Supervisor Tommaso Sagone gets a long credit, then we learn that Production Assistants included Averoe Stefani (Father of Gwen, I bet) and “Cosmo Dies.” We can hear some really faint song over these credits, but it sounds like it was recorded next door to where it actually happened.
Okay, well, my first question has to be, did Pilot’s Wife die? Because that will be a mitigating factor in whether or not I hate this movie as much as I can. She was nice and supportive and was concerned about Fred and Eve.
I’m gonna say she lived. I mean, besides the fact that her death was completely and totally arbitrary, it did nothing other than toss some last-minute tragedy into the mix. Well, we already had tragedy, remember? Remember how Claude sacrificed himself so that knowledge would be everywhere?
One might object that Claude was too unpleasant a character for the audience to care much about, and that’s why Pilot’s Wife was tossed to the (cinematic) wolves, but that also seems to disregard the “whole planet is doomed” scenario that seemed to occupy our cast.
No, no, the whole “Pilot’s Wife is dead” thing just doesn’t work in any terms whatsoever, so I’m gonna go Italian on the movie and say it didn’t happen. She was just wounded.
So, what else have we learned? Other than that Antonio Margheriti is a competent director who keeps things moving and knows how to avoid dead spots, I mean. Can he tell stories, though? Well, he sure can’t avoid the dead spot that comprises the whole movie. I suppose if someone gave him a good script, he would make a good movie; given the script he has here, he made the movie we just finished. As I said, it keeps moving and doesn’t make me want to kill things. Sometimes that’s just enough.
Is it enough now? No, not really. This one is just another competently made time-filler, no better or worse than “Assignment: Outer Space” or the other Antonio Margheriti movies we will, no doubt, be subjected to. As a matter of historical interest, this was "Dawson's" third feature, the previous one being...Assignment Outer Space. So he still had some time to improve. This one is a bit more action-oriented than that one.
Claude Rains was pretty entertaining, I’ll have to give him that, though he was also pretty damned unpleasant and it isn’t surprising at all that people wanted to avoid dealing with him. His over-the-top curmudgeon was in stark contrast to everyone else here, who dealt with their lines as stiffly as they could. It probably would have been more fun if there’s been another old grumpy-pants, so he (or she) and Claude could go one seeing who could harrumph the louder; it definitely would have made this tired thing a bit easier to watch.
On the other hand, it might have been a teeth-pulling experience. Imagine Claude verbally jousting with Asuka from “Neon Genesis Evangelion” and you can imagine me pounding a stake through my own heart.
Still, it sure looked like Claude Rains, the actor, was having a fine old time just slicing up the ham and serving it up thick, and it was nice to see someone all fired-up about facts and knowledge and making sure people know how important they are (and how important he is, too).
Still, unless you’re a big Claude fan or like cheap miniatures or want to experience low-level boredom, I can’t really recommend this one. It’s the same sort of story as “When Worlds Collide” (with hostile aliens added) and, needless to say, it is not superior to that earlier film.
Claude might argue with me on that one. In fact, I’m sure of it. But I’m not listening. La la la I can’t hear you….