MOVIE - “The Thing From Another World”
DIRECTOR - Christian Nyby (and Howard Hawks)
WRITERS - Charles Lederer (Howard Hawks and Ben Hecht uncredited)
SIX DEGREES OF CAST & CREW
- Captain Patrick Hendry, AKA Kenneth Tobey, will be familiar to Cinema Narcs readers as Commander Pete Mathews from “It Came From Beneath The Sea.” See that liveblog Six Degrees for more factoids on him, because he’s pretty fascinating.
-Meanwhile, director Howard Hawks is a modern master of directing. He gave the world “Scarface,” “His Girl Friday,” “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes,” and “Rio Bravo.” He’s also an icon for feminists around the world, giving pop culture the Hawksian woman archetype: a beautiful, tough-talking dame who knows what she wants and knows how to get it. Hawks himself never self-identified as a feminist; indeed, he wrote and directed these women only because they were the kind of women he found fascinating onscreen and in real life.
-This movie is based on the story “Who Goes There?” by John W. Campbell, Jr. It was also adapted, in a more faithful way, by John Carpenter for “The Thing.” Incidentally, the title of this particular movie was often shortened to “The Thing,” and it is widely seen as one of Carpenter’s favorite films. If you watch closely at Carpenter’s classic “Halloween,” you’ll see that Tommy Doyle is watching “The Thing From Another World” on TV as Michael Myers slashes his way through Haddonfield.
-James Arness, who would later go on to fame as Marshall Dillon on “Gunsmoke,” hated his The Thing costume. He described himself as “a giant carrot.” However, “The Thing…” features one of the very first “man on fire” stunts in movie history in which the man is completely immolated. The Thing on fire is stuntman Tom Steele, who wore a special asbestos suit and fiberglass helmet, complete with breathing apparatus. Unfortunately, the apparatus was pumping pure oxygen to Steele, which means he was a hiccup away from setting himself on fire from the inside (and probably completely blowing up). Movie magic, everyone!
We’ve got a special guest tonight for our liveblog. It’s not Mr. Andrew Hall, as I’m not sure where he is. It’s Bill Hader, of SNL fame! Since he’s on TV and not right here next to me, I won’t worry about putting on pants.
I definitely agree with Hader here; the theremin needs to make a comeback. Also, his theremin impression is gold. The theremin is one of my favorite instruments of all time.
“The Thing From Another World” was only one of two pictures put out under the Winchester Studios banner. Winchester was Howard Hawks’ middle name.
The other was “The Big Sky,” a western starring Kirk Douglas.
While the action takes place in the North Pole, the movie was actually shot mostly in LA, with cold weather provided by an ice storage warehouse.
Some of the outdoor shots were filmed at Glacier National Park in Montana. Not sure if this is one, but man, it looks refreshingly cold anyway. Given we’ve got temperatures over 110 with the heat index here, Bill Hader must be trying to torture me with memories of frosty good times.
I really am enjoying Margaret Sheridan’s performance in this flick so far. She was discovered by Howard Hawks while in college, and she turned down the starring role in “Red River” with John Wayne because she was pregnant with her first child. After giving birth and becoming a mother, Hawks claims she just wasn’t the same girl he discovered and it kind of killed her career. At least she’s got this one shining moment.
A weird-looking radioactive thing laying in a bottle-shaped indent in the ground? They must’ve found Paris Hilton.
Music is MY aeroplane.
This scene, of the ring of men surrounding the object frozen in the block of ice was shot in San Fernando at RKO’s ranch in 100+ degree temperatures. Imagine how much fun THAT was in a goose-down parka.
“We’ll just blow the potentially-fragile thing out of the ice with thermite, not knowing how explosive it might be. Here goes nothing!”
My Pop Tarts exploded!
“It’s just the San Andreas Fault, don’t worry about it.”
“You maniacs, you blew it up! Damn you!!! Damn you all to he-… oh wait, it’s over here. Never mind.”
Yeah, just throw thermite at all your problems, since that worked so well last time.
Ha! Nice one-liner there. That’s the one thing about this movie, it doesn’t go for ultra serious like most 50′s monster flicks did.
“Hey, did somebody order the Martian-sicle?”
Tex must be from Arkansas.
Ha, another good line regarding the thermite melting the UFO.
Stuck with the Old 97′s on an Army base.
Scandal! She kissed HIM! That’s not how it works in 1951! Howard Hawks, you rabble-rouser!
They look like they’re in Grumpy Old Men’s fishing shack.
Looks like a M1911-A. Just don’t point it at people like that, though.
“Get LaParka and Boots (from Dora The Explorer)!”
I wish I knew who these guys were; that’s a downfall of a movie with a big cast like this, most of the time I have no idea who anyone is (assuming they’re not a main character).
“Oh, it can die all right. If it loses an arm, we can kill it. Unless it has detachable arms.”
“That’s not plant sap…”
Super-Carrot! America’s greatest superhero returns from the icy Fortress of Solitude!
As it turns out, Super Carrot is the father of the Triffids.
Animal Arrogance, by Calvin Klein.
“I’m going farming for the Jolly Green Giant.”
“I don’t understand what you hope to accomplish with that ghetto blaster.”
“Sir, you’ll find the snozzberries taste like snozzberries.”
This must be where they grow that sick North Pole kush.
And while it was out running, it apparently drank its fill of sled dog.
This is why I should’ve lived in the 50′s. Everywhere you go, someone’s giving you hot coffee. FREE hot coffee.
Okay, THAT was pretty cool. It’s a little Frankenstein-y, but I agree with Arness and Hawks when they decided that the monster shouldn’t be seen a lot. It’s much more shocking and effective when he just… shows up and smashes the door.
“Someone get the doctor some amphetamines! This is the 50′s; meth is still good for you.”
I’m really digging this dialogue. There’s just the right amount of wit to make the situation light, but it’s still really suspenseful. The way they’re talking makes it really seem like they’re on edge.
“This woman is right! For once her cooking skills prove useful in a way that doesn’t result in a delicious roast!”
Ha, “Sargent York” is a Howard Hawks film.
And there’s our man on fire! With complete immolation AND a running scene! For 1951, that’s really impressive. As man on fire scenes go, it’s second to “Swamp Thing’s” epic man-on-fire sequence, but it’s a close second. I love the way The Thing thrashed around and pretty much set everything in the room on fire before he ran out of the room.
So they’re going to use electricity to Great White the monster while it is recuperating in the greenhouse. That’s a great idea.
The fact that it is cold enough to see the actors’ breath is a testament to how you could film in the days before the unions got all the power.
Nice mood lighting. At some points, you can see just how much this flick has influenced guys like Carpenter and Tarantino. There’s a lot of great stuff going on here. I can see why this is a legitimate classic.
Nice Dolemite pimp-slap from the Frankenplant monster to Dr. Scientist.
“Mmm, what smells like broccoli?”
And down goes Scotty, the intrepid battlefield reporter.
And there’s the most iconic line in this movie, and one of the most iconic lines in movie history. ”Keep watching the skies!”
Very classy way to wrap up the flick, and a very good ending to a very good movie.
While there are a lot of classic flicks that don’t hold up, this one does. It’s one of the most influential flicks of all time, and with good reason. It’s a genre classic, and if you haven’t seen it, it’s worth checking out. It’s got a great lightness, but that lightness only serves to make it even more tense when the suspense starts to ratchet up. It’s well-shot, well-written, and it’s a great slice of Cold War cinema.
RATING -Four carrot monsters out of five.