“If only we could communicate with it”
Captain Patrick Hendry, (Kenneth Tobey) (For most of my life I thought his last name was Henry.) takes a plane up to the Arctic Circle to investigate a reported crash. At the Arctic Circle is an expedition of scientists doing various experiments. The scientist in charge is Dr. Arthur Carrington (Robert Cornthwaite). Among the scientists a secretary, Nikki Nicholson, (Margaret Sheridan) that Captain Hendry is attracted to. Along for the ride to the North Pole is reporter Ned Scott (Douglas Spencer) and a small flight crew. The crew consists of co-pilot Lt Eddie Dykes (James Young), navigator Lt. Ken MacPherson (Robert Nichols), Corporal Barnes (William Self) and crew chief Bob (Dewey Martin.
Dr. Carrington, along with a couple scientists, are flown by Hendry and his crew to the crash site. When they investigate the crash, they find a flying saucer. They immediately blow up the flying saucer. They find an alien frozen in the ice. They take the alien back to the research station.
The scientists want to thaw out the alien. Captain Hendry refuses and directs his men to watch the block of ice containing the alien until he can get clearance from headquarters to thaw it out. Someone, not realizing it is on, tosses an electric blanket over the block of ice and thaws out the alien. The alien runs amok. The alien starts to kill people. The head scientist, Dr. Carrington, decides to make more aliens. Now the captain needs to figure out how to kill the alien and rein in the crazy doctor.
"The Thing From Another World" was released in 1951 and was directed by Christian Nyby. The film was produced by Howard Hawks. The movie is based on a short story by John W. Campbell Jr. called "Who Goes There?" This is one of those movies that you didn’t really appreciate until you were old enough to understand the snappy dialogue and funny quips peppered all the way through it. When you were a kid, it was just a fun monster movie and an alien from Mars who looked like regular people but with lettuce stuck to him.
This classic is on most people’s favorite list. And it should be. The pace is fast. The acting is great. The writing is fabulous. The music composed by Dimitri Tiomkin is top notch. The alien, though not necessarily frightening, is tenacious. My favorite scene is when in a darkened room they set it on fire. And guess what. It’s a monster so it’s number 5 on the “How to create a monster” list which of course is something that comes from Outer space.
Howard Hawks asked the U.S. Air Force for assistance in making the film. He was refused, because the top brass felt that such cooperation would compromise the U.S. government's official stance that U.F.O.s didn't exist. When Howard Hawks attempted to get insurance for the creature, five insurance companies turned him down because "The Thing" was to be frozen in a block of ice, hacked by axes, attacked by dogs, lit on fire, and electrocuted.
James Arness complained that his "Thing" costume made him look like a giant carrot. Reportedly he was so embarrassed by the role that he did not attend the premier. Billy Curtis played the smaller version of "The Thing" during the final scene where the creature is electrocuted.