Type search terms and hit "Enter"

When Worlds Collide

by Glenn Erickson Sep 12, 2020

 

George Pal’s second science fiction classic has conceptual imagination and visual wonder to spare, along with a million awkward and dated details. When rogue planets threaten to obliterate the Earth, a super-Ark spaceship is built to spirit forty ‘chosen ones’ to safety. The Ark passengers have the right stuff, but you may be enraged by the rigged process to select who gets to go. Gee-whiz spectacle is the order of the day — how many End Of The World movies actually show terra firma expunged from the Solar System? Barbara Rush and John Hoyt are the acting standouts, but top honors go to Pal’s visual effect artists and designers.


When Worlds Collide
Blu-ray
Viavision / [Imprint] 6 (Australia)
1951 / Color / 1:37 Academy / 83 min. / Street Date August 26, 2020 / available through [Imprint] : $34.95
Starring: Barbara Rush, Richard Derr, Larry Keating, John Hoyt, Judith Ames, James Congden, Stephen Chase, Frank Cady, Hayden Rorke, Kirk Alyn, Casey Rogers, John Ridgely, Stuart Whitman, Leonard Mudie, Mary Murphy, Roy Thinnes (?).
Cinematography: W. Howard Greene, John F. Seitz
Visual Effects; Gordon Jennings, Tim Baar, Jan Domela, Paul K, Lerpae, Chesley Bonestell
Film Editor: Arthur P. Schmidt
Original Music: Leith Stevens
Written by Sydney Boehm from the novel by Edwin Balmer & Philip Wylie
Produced by George Pal
Directed by
Rudolph Maté

 

CineSavant takes the full measure of a Sci-fi favorite.

We dearly love the amazing When Worlds Collide even though it suffers from a rushed production and a screenplay that introduces a new absurdity in almost every scene. Just the same, this is core science fiction, one of the few A-grade studio sci-fi shows filmed in Technicolor. Made near the very beginning of the 1950’s craze, it was a popular hit and took home an Oscar for special effects. Most of those special effects have limitations, but the fabulous silver spaceship remains a wondrous spectacle. This wasn’t the first film story about an astral collision with Earth, but it was the first to introduce a Space Ark to save a ‘chosen’ group of humans.

This review essay may read as hyper-critical, but we only pick at the movie because we love it so, problems and all. Audiences I’ve seen it with may have laughed at individual moments, but they applauded it at the finish. Like I say, we love George Pal’s wonder movie.

The original Balmer & Wylie book (and its sequel After Worlds Collide) were likely inspired by Abel Gance’s French talkie La fin du monde (1931), an even crazier drama that observes social chaos and spiritual rebirth as a giant comet threatens to wipe out our planet. Gance ran amuck with the wild idea that his movies would inspire humanity to spiritually heal itself, end war, etc.; he plays a Christian guru who sees a deadly comet as the Second Coming and himself as a Christ figure. Gance even plays Jesus in play-within-the-film.

 

The book source.

The 1932 novels When Worlds Collide and After Worlds Collide aren’t as overtly faith-based — they propose the idea that  20th-Century faith needs to be based in technology and science. Yet the books present a thinly disguised Christian metaphor for the Second Coming and the End of Times. Two heavenly bodies hurtling through space will intersect Earth’s orbit in only two years. Representing the Old Testament Jehovah, the giant planet Bronson Alpha will smash the Earth to pulp, killing every living soul. But Earth has a second chance for redemption. A few weeks before the arrival of Bronson Alpha, its smaller satellite Bronson Beta, representing Jesus Christ, will twice pass close by our planet. The first passing will cause massive earthquakes, tidal waves and other assorted havoc. A ‘Second Coming’ of Bronson Beta shortly thereafter will offer salvation to any humans that can build Rocket Arks to make the leap across a few thousand miles of space. It will be like the evangelical Rapture; the vast majority of humanity will perish. Only a Chosen Few technocrats will be able to save themselves.

Nowhere in these two Collide books is this Christian Second Coming metaphor openly stated. We are instead given an adventure led by bold men and women. Led by the visionary Cole Hendron, the cream of scientific humanity dedicates itself to the cause of survival. The Ark project is wholly un-Democratic: the books imply that only a select few technological elites deserve to live. Considering that they were written in the depths of the Great Depression, it isn’t difficult to see the books as a condemnation of the Roosevelt recovery effort. Interpreting the American way as a Darwinian competition, the law of ‘survival of the fittest’ decrees that the weak and unworthy be abandoned to their fate.

The book’s exalted heroes occasionally shed a tear for the teeming millions that will be obliterated in the astral collision to come. Their Ark can carry only 400 people. With civilization completely disrupted, the Ark project’s Rocky Mountain camp must defend itself from armies of hostile, needy outsiders. The Ark itself is an atomic-powered rocket shaped roughly like the massive squat projectile of Fritz Lang’s 1929 Frau Im Mond. Only after the first passing cracks the Earth’s crust do the engineers find a way to make the atomic engines function without melting down. New volcanoes disgorge a metal suitable for the rocket tubes, in time for the building of a second Ark. All project personnel that survived the battles with the invading armies will have a chance to reach the safe haven of Bronson Beta.

Although reasonably well written, the prose of When Worlds Collide and After Worlds Collide is shot through with racism, xenophobia and loathing of all things Asian. The Space Ark project is almost completely white; the playboy hero Tony Drake’s Japanese houseboy Kyto comes along but the general assumption is that the New World has no place for ‘lesser’ races. Both books were purchased by Paramount for Cecil B. DeMille right after publication. The famous filmmaker’s plan may have been to round off his Biblical trilogy with a futuristic fourth installment, an ‘End of the World’ epic.

DeMille considered himself part of a natural elite, and some of his films express weird social ideas. His quasi-apocalyptic Madam Satan is a disorganized comedy with a climactic orgy-party on a giant dirigible destroyed by a storm. His crypto-Fascist This Day and Age proposes that the solution to gangsterism is ad hoc vigilante justice. It’s possible that a fantasy about the ‘right’ people being spared, leaving the remainder of unwashed humanity to be destroyed, had a special appeal for DeMille.

Sixteen years later George Pal’s Destination Moon opened the door to the ’50s sci-fi boom. The former producer of charming Puppetoons was invited back to Paramount, possibly with DeMille’s encouragement, to rekindle the abandoned When Worlds Collide project. The screenplay reads as if it could have been written in 1934. It skirts the overt racism of its literary source but, as with many movies made under Hollywood’s Production Code, racial minorities are almost completely absent. Retained in full is the kind of showy sanctimony favored by Cecil B. De Mille.

 

Bronson Alpha = Bellus, and
Bronson Beta = Zyra.

The film also retains the book’s Christian metaphor — God has decided that our days are numbered. Freelance pilot David Randall (Richard Derr) jumps into the middle of world-shattering events when he delivers a set of photographic plates from a South African observatory to the New York lab of astronomer Cole Hendron (Larry Keating). As in the books, two rogue interstellar planets (now named Bellus and Zyra) are going to collide with and destroy the Earth — but in only eight months’ time. Hendron scrambles to build a Space Ark to ferry a small group of humans to a possible new life on Zyra. He’s aided by a cash infusion from some idealistic industrialists, and also an endowment from the wheelchair-bound zillionaire misanthrope Sydney Stanton (John Hoyt). Randall is attracted to Hendron’s daughter Joyce (Barbara Rush). He works hard on the spaceship project but is convinced that he has no skill essential for building a new world on Zyra. Besides, Joyce is already engaged to a handsome doctor, Tony Drake (Peter Hansen). Before the final impact, one of the planets will pass close enough to Earth to cause cataclysmic earthquakes and flooding. If the project survives that disruption, there’s no guarantee that the Space Ark can be completed in time.

A giant Bible page opens When Worlds Collide, illuminated by lightning and thunder. Additional Christian elements may have been added to the show to appease the Catholic-dominated Production Code — remember that both sci-fi classics The Day the Earth Stood Still and This Island Earth include awkward dialogue indicating that our Judeo-Christian God rules over the whole cosmos, not just our own planet. Note that the inside of the film’s Space Ark is arrayed like a church, with the faithful in the pews and the pilots (churchmen?) up in the pulpit. In the movie, the great majority of Ark project personnel are ‘left behind’ as in The Rapture. These unlucky scientists and engineers spontaneously riot and attempt to seize the ship.

The riot of the idealistic Ark-builders left behind is only one of numerous non-sequiturs of science, logic, and moral equity in When Worlds Collide. Was producer Pal insensitive to concerns that so many viewers would notice?  It’s surprising that the film’s scientific details are so sketchy, considering Pal’s fastidiously accurate Destination Moon. The Ark’s engineers are able to research, design, and build an incredibly advanced rocketship in just eight months, even as civilization crumbles around them. There is no test flight for this super rocket. Its fuel gauge simply indicates ‘full’ and ’empty,’ an unintentionally funny detail noticed by all.

 

The Space Ark is still a beautiful design, reportedly by artist Chesley Bonestell. It is launched on a mile-long ramp that swoops down into a valley before zooming up a steep mountainside. This was likely a design choice, allowing for the rocket under construction to be positioned on a dramatic promontory, not at the bottom of a gulch.

Novelist and scientist Arthur C. Clarke wrote a critique of the movie, pointing out numerous disappointments in scientific accuracy. He asserted that the roller-coaster ride down one mountain and up the next would waste fuel, because the rocket’s forward impetus would be transferred to the ground as it took the curve: the rocket might as well just start from the bottom of the ravine. But Clarke missed a key detail: The engines that accelerate the ship down the ramp are on the sled undercarriage, not the ship itself. The ignition of the rocket’s own engines is delayed. The spaceship is already speeding when its wing engines fire up. The main rocket lights up on the upward part of the ramp.

We immediately wonder how Cole Hendron’s scientific experts will choose essential cargo for the Space Ark. As it turns out, the manifest for this joy ride is given almost no thought at all. We see a pathetic row of books being (sensibly) microfilmed prior to launch… there appears to be microfilm space for only one volume of an encyclopedia. Meanwhile, we’re thinking how civilization can continue without specialized instruments. Everything they bring will eventually wear out. Does one bring the machines needed to make the instruments, or the tools to make the machines, or the foundries to make the tools… the Ark planners might have done better bringing along how-to books from ancient Babylon or Egypt.

One can’t tell a story of the transplanting of an entire civilization in simplified storybook terms. That George Pal was a devout and uncomplicated church-goer seems evident in the Sunday School evasion of issues of reproduction, even on chaste go-forth-and-multiply terms. Domestic farm animals are led on board literally two by two Noah-style, as if a single pair of animals could restore a species. The film ignores the problem of genetic in-breeding, an issue that also applies to the twenty randomly paired couples that win the lottery to take the trip. The book’s four hundred Ark passengers seem a much more feasible genetic variety sample.

 

Will there be sex in space?

The Production Code would never have approved a film that proposed a scientific, secular reproduction plan for a new colony of humans. The movie dodges vulgar considerations by foregrounding a conventional romantic triangle. Barbara Rush’s lovely Joyce Hendron chooses her mate from two likely candidates, preserving the tradition of monogamy. With mismatched lottery winners some kind of logical plan would be needed to insure genetically healthy babies for mankind’s future. Given a passenger limit of forty people, the un-sexy and un-romantic solution to the problem would be to take very few males aboard the Ark. Most of the human passengers would need to be female scientists, doctors and engineers — all extremely young, strong and fit to bear children. The male component of the passenger list should mainly be test tubes of sperm for later artificial insemination. Why waste cargo weight on redundant drones, when you need all the breeder females you can get?  Are we saving mankind here, or what?

All these un-sanctified human breeding notions are likely why the much more famous dystopian book Brave New World was never produced by Hollywood — the church-dominated Production Code office had the power to keep movie screens free of such Godless content. Not only that, the patriarchal headlock on sexual politics might be threatened — Code-approved movies routinely made women choose between a career or a husband and family, as if they couldn’t have both. Remember the mineshaft sexual fantasies in Kubrick & Southern’s Doctor Strangelove: faced with life in a bomb shelter, the generals and politicians are first and foremost concerned about the quality of their sex lives.

The moral logic of When Worlds is just as thoughtlessly applied elsewhere. Essential Ark personnel risk their lives to fly emergency supplies to flood survivors. This scene must have been included to show that the Ark elite are compassionate. Dave Randall and Tony Drake toss a few boxes of medicine to some forlorn flood survivors, and consider their moral duty fulfilled. While they’re at it, why not toss the refugees some paper towels?  The scene comes off as a grotesque, dishonest way to avoid dealing with the fate of the unlucky millions left.

The helicopter stuntwork in that scene, by the way, is phenomenal. Tight against a housetop with a chimney, the pilot keeps the tiny ‘copter in place even when a 170-pound man steps on and off. I assume (hope) that the little boy in the stunt is played by a midget. On the other hand, making Drake an important M.D. and an expert helicopter pilot is not only unbelievable, it undercuts the notion that Dave Randall is an irreplaceable Ark pilot. The scene is flawed in a third way: having the wholly decent Tony consider abandoning Dave is another example of the film’s non-functioning dramatic construction.

 

The most rigged election  lottery in movie history.

Only forty seats are available on the Space Ark. The manner in which they are divvied out is so twisted, the nasty Sydney Stanton’s initial demand to choose the survivors almost makes sense. During the lottery for the Ark’s limited seating, not one of the young engineers and scientists objects when the project head Cole Hendron arbitrarily reserves space for his personal entourage, including his daughter and her boyfriend. More space is undemocratically given to a kid rescued from that rooftop, and even a stray dog. A few minutes later, Hendron further bends the rules to allow one lottery loser to take cuts in the line for the Ark, so she can join her boyfriend. Wouldn’t many of the forty chosen be leaving significant others behind?  No wonder the losers are rioting!

The most entertaining performance in the movie is John Hoyt’s hiss-able villain Sidney Stanton. One of the first logic-disconnects is how Stanton’s riches made the Ark possible — the movie clearly points out that, with the world ending, money no longer has any value. Maybe Stanton handed out bogus Ark tickets to all his suppliers?

The film’s biggest dramatic moment also features John Hoyt. The noble savior Cole Hendron turns out to be one treacherous SOB. After cheating the passenger list he denies Stanton his agreed-upon admittance to the Ark out of pure personal antipathy. The movie prefigures Doctor Strangelove a second time when the reality of doom unaccountably restores Stanton’s ability to walk. This is clearly meant to be an apocalyptic miracle. You’ve got five minutes to live, Mister Moneybags, so go have yourself a stroll. That’s only if Stanton and Hendron aren’t killed by the rocket blast from the Ark’s undercarriage-sled.

 

The ambitious special effects.

When Worlds Collide won an Oscar for best special effects (with no competition) and was also nominated for best cinematography. The visual effects that wowed ’em in 1951 can still spark imagination and wonder; these days some shots look rushed and insubstantial. The Space Ark itself is a beautiful silver rocket that looks great against the dramatic painted skies. The miniatures are reasonably well photographed, and except for some poorly scaled fire and smoke, breathtakingly filmed in Technicolor.

Views of the onrushing planets looming in the night sky are appropriately frightening despite the dubious astronomy involved: if the giant planet Bellus is really speeding through the heavens at the rate of .7 million miles per day, it ought to be just a couple of seconds away from impact.

The chaos and disasters of the first passing of the rogue planets are somewhat limited in scope — I would imagine that Paramount cut down George Pal’s budget and schedule, as often happens on effects-heavy films. The disaster montage has just one full effects composite, a not-bad traveling matte of water pouring into Manhattan’s Times Square. That’s followed by a just-passable painting that depicts capsized ocean liners floating next to the Chrysler building, etc. ( Top image )  The balance of the Zyra-passing montage is assembled from every bit of Technicolor volcano, flood, and earthquake stock footage that George Pal could get his hands on, including bits from Tulsa (exploding oil derricks), Spawn of the North (crumbling glaciers), For Whom the Bell Tolls (a collapsing bridge) and Crash Dive (a landscape of burning oil).

Views of the Ark in space are severely limited, and the shot of the ship reversing direction to land on Zyra reveals its puppet on a string quality. A big disappointment for many viewers is the single shot depicting the actual astral collision. Everything we are and ever were is gone in an instant. The characters register no reaction to this at all, as if it didn’t matter — when an entire planet is blasted in Star Wars, even the unflappable Obi-Wan Kenobi feels an emotional disturbance. Easy come, easy go?  Don’t worry. A few minutes later the birth of some puppies gets a warm and welcome reaction from our Space Arkians.

The Arkians appear to have no plan at all as to how to safely land their super-cool Space Ark on Zyra. Aerial glimpses of the terrain show only ice and dense clouds for hundreds of miles, and a crash landing is accomplished on a convenient field of mountain snow. A woman passenger squeaks out “We’re HEERE!”, as might Minnie Mouse on arrival at Disneyland. Audiences groan when the cocksure pilot David Randall throws open the airlock without first testing the atmosphere because, “It’s the only place we can go!” Even if the whole planet has wonderful oxygen-rich air, who’s to say they haven’t landed in a rare pocket of methane-ammonia?

When the hatch is opened we see only a bit of snow. The view revealed is a verdant paradise. On the horizon is an inspirational sunset. Pal had envisioned a final vista combining a 3-D miniature and mattes, like one of the planet-scapes seen in the beginning of War of the Worlds. But the finished movie instead ends with an obvious painting, a stylized cartoon-scape. It’s attractive, but artificial in the extreme.

The consensus is that George Pal held a preview screening of When Worlds Collide with a few temporary shots as place-holders for incomplete effects. There’s a basic lesson in special effects: never show producers a shot if you don’t want them to approve it and make you live with it forever. Paramount deemed the film ‘good enough’ and finished it as presented, temporary shots as well. The fact that the artist added giant architectural pyramids to the final shot shows that the painting wasn’t intended for final use — the idea of a sequel had been abandoned early on. The finished shot only pans across the second half of a very long painting. (only the 2nd half is shown below ) The first half has much more snow, and the mountains more closely match those where the spaceship came to a halt.

 

The pyramids are really tantalizing, and the movie stops just when an even more spectacular sci-fi epic ought to begin. It’s a bit like the finale of Fox’s Tyrone Power epic Captain from Castile: just as the Conquistadores finally see the halls of Moctezuma the show abruptly ends. The idyllic mood at When Worlds Collide’s finale carries a hint of pre-war romantic whimsy. Composer Leith Stevens’ music track abets this fanciful, romantic tone. When Tony Drake rather unbelievably sacrifices his own romantic happiness to arrange Joyce and David’s reconciliation on the rocket launch pad, we hear a bit of wistful music for Tony to whistle as he walks away, hands in his pockets. The movie plays as if it were made in 1938, not 1951.

I think that this pre-war sentimental vibe links Collide to, of all things, Max & Dave Fleischer’s Technicolor Paramount cartoon feature Mr. Bug Goes to Town, aka Hoppity Goes to Town (1941). It’s essentially the same story. A diverse group of bugs are doomed when their patch of undeveloped city dirt is about to be destroyed to make room for a new skyscraper. The grasshopper Hoppity saves them by leading a bug caravan to a hoped-for paradise on a rooftop penthouse garden high in the sky. The naïve sentiment matches that of When Worlds Collide, in which the Ark reaches a planet also conceived as a Sunday School ‘heaven.’  The gentle George Pal had little affinity for the grim aspects of his fantasy pictures. He soft-pedals the End of the World, and opts instead for storybook sweetness and light.

 

So what about After Worlds Collide?

The two books from 1933 are fairly good reading, if you don’t mind virulent racism and xenophobia. What happens in After Worlds Collide?  The sequel picks up after a successful landing on the new world Bronson Beta. The first book established that the Hendron project launched two Space Arks, and multiple countries constructed others; at least four Arks reach Bronson Beta. It’s also established that Bronson Beta had a flourishing futuristic society complete with planet-spanning roads and giant cities under glass domes, all of which was frozen solid during the trip through the vastness of space. It’s convenient that the now-extinct aliens were apparently people very much like us. The planet has thawed in proximity to our Sun, leaving everything ready to receive the new tenants from Earth. It’s as if the balloonists of Mysterious Island crash-landed on a desert Island, and then found themselves the accidental inheritors of a lavish resort. Luck–eee!

After Worlds leads with some intriguing & imaginative chapters as the domed cities are investigated. But in an effort to wrap things up fast the authors assemble hasty suspense episodes in which Tony, David and Joyce reunite to lead a battle against the ‘Midianites,’ a coalition of Germans, Russians and Japanese that has formed a totalitarian dictatorship. These Midianites have already enslaved the survivors of a British Ark. The heroic resistance consists of a few espionage maneuvers including a daring mission by a female commando pretending to be a defector. With peace reestablished the future is secure. The emigrants inherit a world of futuristic technology to study and enjoy.

 

Comets and meteors and asteroids, Oh My!

Here’s a roundup of similar ‘Astral Collision’ spectaculars. Although both the Flash Gordon serial and the Superman comic strip feature rocket ships launched from an endangered planet, the key modern movie with a Space Ark comparable to When Worlds Collide’s is Pixar’s animated Wall-E (2008).

Most Astral Collision movies just envision a possible collision with an errant planet or comet, akin to Halley’s Comet. Thanks to correspondent Jonathan Gluckman, I was able to see the enjoyable 1916 Danish film Verdens Undergang aka The End of the World. The special effects for the comet threat in Abel Gance’s wildly uneven La fin du monde are realistic and convincing.

A comet indirectly threatens Earth in Caltiki il mostro immortale (1959) by re-animating an all-devouring monster. Antonio Margheriti’s Battle of the Worlds aka Il pianeta degli uomini spenti (1961) is the first of several Italo pictures featuring runaway planetoids that… again threaten Earth. Toho’s spectacular Gorath (1962) is also about a massive, growing planetary interloper entering our Solar System. Eiji Tsuburaya visualizes a number of wildly ambitious visuals such as the destruction of the rings of Saturn. To avoid a collision, massed atomic boosters shift our entire planet out of orbit. It’s not clear if a proper orbit can be reestablished, but what plan is perfect?

Steven Spielberg began a When Worlds Collide remake, which morphed into the first of two astral collision movies released in 1998. Mimi Leder’s well-made Dreamworks film Deep Impact updates/solves many of the story problems of When Worlds Collide (I should have reviewed it by now). Michael Bay’s Armageddon was the box office winner despite being all but unwatchable — it’s perhaps the most irritatingly edited movie I’ve ever seen. An official Stephen Sommers remake of When Worlds Collide is still listed on the IMDB, but I think the project faded away years ago. Finally, Lars von Trier can’t decide to what degree the ‘rogue planet’ apocalypse in his Melancholia (2011) is a subjective event, as opposed something real happening to the world. The eerie sequences showing the effects of Melancholia’s approach are astonishing, however.


When Worlds Collide has always been a favorite here, flaws and all. I love the fanciful rocket design and the spectacular special effects. One re-imagines it in multiple forms. It’s core 1950’s sci-fi sense of wonder stuff, an ambitious idea fleshed out just enough to capture the imagination.


 

Viavision / [Imprint]’s Blu-ray of When Worlds Collide is a handsome HD encoding of this classic favorite. It looks quite good, although it has not been given a digital restoration like the one enjoyed by George Pal’s The War of the Worlds, which Viavision recently released on Blu-ray.

Paramount’s inferior 2001 DVD of When Worlds Collide was made from an Eastmancolor composite element with dozens of mis-registered shots. Even close-ups of newspaper headlines had red fringes around the black lettering. The new transfer mostly looks terrific, even though it was not made by recombining Technicolor color registers. Most of the opticals — dissolve transitions and special visual effects — show more dirt and dings and can be more grainy. The overall contrast and color are excellent. The lack of a real restoration is a disappointment, yet this is the best I’ve seen of the film this side of Paramount’s IB Tech studio print, circa 1975.

Viavision’s packaging is attractive and uncluttered. An original poster adorns the slip case cover and a simple image of the Space Ark is on the actual disc case. A trailer in perfect condition is accompanied by a photo gallery that contains a surfeit of unfamiliar stills of the cast, mostly the three leads. Ninety minutes of Arnold Leibovit’s interviews with George Pal collaborators are assembled as a special extra (names below).

The key extra is an enthusiastic commentary by experts Kim Newman and Barry Forshaw, who do a good job shifting from Horror to Sci-fi (although Newman would likely do well with any kind of feature). Newman leads most of the discussion, leaping from observation to observation and not getting too deep into any of them. Newman explains that he read the original When but not the sequel After; we’re surprised that he downplays the books’ white supremacist attitude. They concentrate on more positive angles, such as Collide’s status as true Sci-fi filmmaking. They quite fairly observe that most of the film’s characters are dull, including the romantic leads. Barbara Rush is pretty and Richard Derr does his utmost to be charming and conflicted, but the petty personal problems pale beside the big issue. The commentators rightly cheer John Hoyt as the one actor to make a permanent impression.

They note that George Pal didn’t inject a monster into the movie, as had just been shown to guarantee sci-fi success with The Thing from Another World. Newman’s ability to pull in the wildest horror film references leads me to think that he hasn’t seen some of the less-available sci-fi pictures — he doesn’t mention Gorath, which did indeed add a monster for commercial appeal.

When they praise the movie’s rollercoaster launching ramp, the commentators say that it’s unique. Not only is it much like the ramps used for WW2  V-1  cruise missiles, similar rollercoaster launchers feature in the Russian moon rocket epic Kosmitcheskiy reys (1936) and Satellite in the Sky (1956), as well as 1940’s Weltraumschiff 1 startet … , a glorified short subject predicting the future of a Nazi space program.

Viavision lists a running time of 79 minutes when the show on their disc is 83 minutes… I think somebody referenced a compressed PAL running time.

Reviewed by Glenn Erickson


When Worlds Collide
Blu-ray rates:
Movie: Very Good
Video: Very Good ++ plus-plus
Sound: Excellent
Supplements: Commentary with Kim Newman and Barry Forshaw, trailer, image gallery, 90min of extended interviews with Gene Roddenberry, Ray Bradbury, Ray Harryhausen, Roy Edward Disney, Wah Chang, Russ Tamblyn & Duke Goldstone.
Deaf and Hearing-impaired Friendly?
YES
; Subtitles: English
Packaging: One Blu-ray in Keep case
Reviewed:
September 10, 2020
(6346coll)CINESAVANT

Visit CineSavant’s Main Column Page
Glenn Erickson answers most reader mail:
cinesavant@gmail.com

Text © Copyright 2020 Glenn Erickson

About Glenn Erickson

Screen Shot 2015-08-24 at 6.51.08 PM

Glenn Erickson left a small town for UCLA film school, where his spooky student movie about a haunted window landed him a job on the CLOSE ENCOUNTERS effects crew. He’s a writer and a film editor experienced in features, TV commercials, Cannon movie trailers, special montages and disc docus. But he’s most proud of finding the lost ending for a famous film noir, that few people knew was missing. Glenn is grateful for Trailers From Hell’s generous offer of a guest reviewing haven for CineSavant.