“I have a responsibility to this country too and I can’t stand by and see it destroyed.”
Chris Cronyn (Peter Graves) and his wife Linda Cronyn (Andrea King) are American scientists. They are telecommunications experts. Their current project is to send radio signals to Mars looking to contact Martians. Due to its orbit Mars is currently the closest it will be on its journey around the Sun. Chris is using an advanced communications system that was stolen from the Nazis. One day, Mars calls back. At first his communications are mathematical equations.
At the same time Franz Calder (Herbert Berghof) is also trying to communicate with Mars. He is hiding in a research station deep in the Andes Mountains. Calder is an ex-Nazi who invented the hydrogen valve that Chris is using to boost the signals. The Russians show up and want to know if Calder has succeeded in contacting Mars. He says no but the Americans, who also have his technology, have succeeded.
Chris begins a dialogue with Mars. Their lifespan is 300 years. They have unlimited power and an excess of food. It begins to sound as if Mars is a utopian society. The news spreads like wild fire. So does chaos. The news that there is life on Mars and that it is more advanced than Earth brings economic collapse around the world. Agriculture, mining, Oil, banking all fall knowing that everything Earth is doing is obsolete. The world is in an uproar. Marshall Law is enacted everywhere. The Cronyn family is besieged with angry workers who are in fear of their jobs.
The military wants to take over control of the communications to prevent more upheaval. The Russians contemplate war. The government imposes a news blackout and orders the transmissions to stop. They realize that the Soviet Union could pick up and decode Mar’s messages. Then a message is decoded that the Earth is condemned to the fear of nuclear war for abandoning the teachings of God. When the message is broadcast all over the world a religious movement sweeps the globe. Even Russia is overthrown by theology.
But then, Franz Calder shows up in the United States, and he casts doubts about where the messages actually came from.
“Red Planet Mars” was released in 1952 and was directed by Harry Horner. The movie is based on the play by John L. Balderston and John Hoare. The title of the movie is great, but very misleading. The ‘Red Planet’ part could refer to the Russian communist countries, as well as Mars.
I personally don’t consider it a Science Fiction movie. It is a political and religious movie. There are no rocket ships, aliens or ray guns. There is basically no action at all and not really anything to do with space. Instead it is a pro USA cold war propaganda film with religious overtones. Our freedom of religion is one of the aspects that make us different from communist countries. And according to us, makes us better than communist countries. A sort of spare the religion, spoil the country kind of thing. To me the movie is more appropriate for Sunday morning than Saturday night creature features.
If you like theological movies this one will get you thinking, however, if you are looking for your basic low budget “B” sci-fi movie, you are better off with “Angry Red Planet”.