15 February 2009

It Came From Outer Space

It Came From Outer Space
United States-1953
Director - Jack Arnold
MCA/Universal Home Video, 2002, DVD

In some little dirt town called Sun Mesa, or something just as corny in Arizona, there’s a coarsely featured under-appreciated science fiction writer/astronomer type (screenwriter Ray Bradbury alluding to his own career?) with a dopey name to match his face, John Putnam. His hot pushover girlfriend is a local, and teacher in the village school. One night while exchanging forced coy lovers' promises in their romantic desert getaway they see a meteor crash a few miles from the house. The next day they go check out the crater with the help of the simple crop duster guy and his erector set helicopter. Putnam waddles into the crater and at the bottom sees what appears to be a ship and, WHAM an eyeful of alien creature! This movie has just blown its load in less than ten minutes and now the rest of it has to play out like an overlong episode of The Twilight Zone.Nobody believes Putnam when he tells them about his new friend, and he is mocked for being a weirdo by the entire community. Driving around whining and feeling sorry for himself with his gal, he gets increasingly embittered and starts mumbling to himself, finally getting out of the car in a paranoid frenzy and talking to the desert. Driving back and forth like a maniac, he runs across some local hayseed electricians who soon fall victim to a smoke billowing one-eyed monster.

Putnam, still driving around and cursing a society that rejects his visionary imagination tries to tell the hostile Sheriff something is going down, but as I said before, Putnam is bourgeoisie intellectual communist hive-mind type and the Sheriff is no exception to the boneheaded God-fearing skeptical cavemen who populate the American west.

With inexplicable perseverance Putnam naively hissy-fits his way into the job of ambassador/messenger betwixt the humans and the cummuno-creatures that are conveniently able to make themselves look just like the principal actors.

Inconveniently for the Sheriff and dirt farmer lynch mob, the monsters decline to actually make any threats or express hostile intent, but that aint gonna stop patriotic isolationist xenophobia from falling back on that tried and true classic American diplomatic policy of spastic reactionary lashing-out.

A victim of rapidly escalating mistrust and fear, Putnam bumbles into the role of ineffectual and simpering mediator and scapegoat for both sides. Well-placed desire for his more attractive temporal pleasures plug him robotlike ever onward and he strikes a crude deal between the earthmen and space guys, saving his own ego at the last possible doofy moment. I get the distinct impression that he could have just as easily slipped on a banana peel and broken a priceless art object in really, really slow, (feature length) motion and that would have just about done the same thing.

A 3-D double bill with Creature From the Black Lagoon (a personal favorite). Three posters, the last one is the best I think because of the eyeball juice. And a VHS box cover from the 1996 MCA Universal re-relaease.

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