It's It month, apparently.
What is it this time? It’s this:
And it’s ugly. Which couple is up against It this time?
She’s Barbara Rush, and we’ll say more about here in a moment. The fellow is Richard Carlson, playing a writer and amateur astronomer who saw It’s ship crash to earth. Everyone says it was a meteor, but he’s telling them - he’s just got to tell them - that it’s something else, I tell you, something awful. Something that might be coming here to enslave and/or destroy us all, don’t you see?
In other words: on paper, you cannot get more generic than this. Ugly shambling alien, dutiful babe-companion, Square-Jaw hero. It needs only a professor who eventually comes around to see his point.
Why, hello there:
It’s the professor! But he’s not the Professor, of course, and this is not a generic 50s creature-feature. “It came from Beneath the Sea” was a fine piece of monster-movie fun; “It, the Terror From Beyond Space, okay, Mars” was a reasonably acceptable excuse to fire lots of guns at a guy in a big hokey suit. This is much more subtle, and much more intelligent. This might be why:
The aliens did not come across vast expanses of space to eat us. Or take our resources. Or another reasons. Frankly, they’d rather be on their way; they have places to go, things to do. Their spaceship broke down, and it needs repairing. For some reason they have to assume human form to fix it, though, and this means duplicating the bodies of ordinary Arizona townsfolk. As the hero asks them: Why? You built the thing, surely you can fix it without turning into us.
“Yes,” says the creature in an echoey monotone, “but this would require a budget that allows for several creatures, which we do not have. Also, grad students in film school decades from now would not be able to cite the movie as an example of subconscious dread of Communist infiltration.”
When the menfolk go missing, the womenfolk go the police. We have Ma Ying and Miss Yang:
She makes another appearance at the end, when the credits roll, and everyone poses as they looked when the aliens xeroxed them.
Well, yes, Me am Tarzan, now that you mention it:
As of this writing in 2009, she's still around. She's 81.
As for the main female lead: here's Ms. Rush in alien-duplicated form:
They bought her a new wardrobe. The guys had to wear the same clothes. But check out this wonderful picture of Joe Sawyer in possession-mode:
That shot gives you an idea how well the film's composed. It uses the desert to marvellous effect, and treats the audience with respect - sure, there's thrills and/or chills, but the movie has a quiet, smart, deliberative tone that makes it work. Not very creepy to modern eyes. But it had its moments of sci-fi noir:
Does it have a Star Trek connection? Oh yes: a real king-hell link, too. I expect someone will figure it out, and post it here, in the Comments.
The trailer. Didn't know it was in 3D.