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Thursday, October 24, 2013

THIS ISLAND EARTH (1955)

See, there’s this man with a giant forehead! And he’s on the hunt for the world’s most exceptional minds! Secretly testing them; picking the best of the bunch; flying them to a secret lair to begin the great task! John Galt from Ayn Rand’s ATLAS SHRUGGED? No? Actually, it’s Dr. Exeter from this decently produced, but generally lousy ‘50s Cold War-era Sci-Fi pic. (Anyway, Rand published two years after this came out.) Jeff Morrow, wearing a big prosthetic forehead, is Exeter, our putative John Galt character, but really an alien being charged with saving his fast fading planet. And, wouldn’t you know it, things don’t go as planned. Stiff Rex Reason (his real name) is the hunky daredevil doc who winds up going on a space ride to help an alien race, along with sexy scientist Faith Domergue. This should all be a lot more fun than it is, but the plot never adds up to much and the film has little to offer beyond its eye-popping TechniColor restoration and glossy effects.

WATCH THIS, NOT THAT: William Cameron Menzies’ INVADERS FROM MARS/’53 is just one example of the many Cold War era Sci-Fi alien scare pics that top this limp thing.

SCREWY THOUGHT OF THE DAY: Baby-boomers may remember this in WideScreen. Begun in ‘53, it was one of many films caught in the trap of starting production just before the switch away from the old Academy Ratio. This film, apparently, was originally projected thru a framing aperture that cropped the 1.37:1 image to show as 2:1. The latest DVD goes back to the squarish ‘full-screen’ format so that everything that got filmed shows. But feel free to zoom in one level for your very own cropped image of 1.85:1. (Just don’t use the anamorphic/16x9 setting.)

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