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Wednesday, July 12, 2017


One of the favorite movies of the League of Five

think the boys of Stranger Things but with weird movies holding them together and not Dungeons and Dragons!

We watched that movie whenever it came on the classic fright TV shows on the weekends.  

Little pre-teen me fell in love with Barbara Rush and wanted to grow up to be Richard Carlson 

who later tangled with the creature from the Black Lagoon!

The evocative dialogue touched me even as young as I was.

And well it should since it was written by Ray Bradbury though  Harry Essex snatched the credit.  


Listen to the intro by John Putnam (Carlson):

"This is Sand Rock, Arizona, of a late evening in early spring. 

It's a nice town, knowing its past and sure of its future, as it makes ready for the night, and the predictable morning. 

The desert blankets the earth, cooling, resting for the fight with tomorrow's sun. 

And in my house near the town, we're also sure of the future. So very sure."

Or the words of Frank, the desert telephone lineman:

 “John, after you’ve been working out in the desert fifteen years like I have, you hear a lot of things. 

See a lot of things, too.  The sun in the sky, and the heat, all that sand out there with the rivers, lakes that aren’t real at all.  

And sometimes you think that the wind gets in the wires and hums and listens and talks, just like what we’re hearing now.  And then it’s gone."

{ Shot after shot of cars and trucks moving along the desert roads are aerial shots, 

composed with telephone lines continually strung along in the foreground,

 humming with the strange theremin music composed for the film by Herman Stein, Irving Gertz and Henry Mancini.  

It’s as if the aliens have tapped into the telephone lines for purposes we cannot know or understand.}


take the moment from the film right before Ellen and John meet Frank:

Ellen shivers when she looks out at the desert, seeing buzzards circle around and thinking how dead it is.  

"No", murmurs Putnam, “It’s alive, and waiting for you.  

Ready to kill you if you go too far.  The sun will get you, or the cold at night.  A thousand ways the desert can kill.” 

 Evocative scenes like this provoke the sense that the primitive desert, formidable enough on its own merit, 

is portentous with alien menace and intrigue. 

Bradbury never meant for the audience to see the aliens but for them to see humans through alien eyes.

We see them as they assume the shapes of humans they capture.

In this movie, we are the monsters.

Why did they do that?

Putnum points out a scuttling spider to the sheriff while he tries to explain just that to him.

The sheriff stomps on it in disgust.

Putnum sighs, 
"You did that because it was ugly, strange, and headed your way.  

You had no way to know if it meant you harm. Yet, you killed it anyway."

Bradbury later explains his reasoning,

"I tried to point out, in one way or another, that we would never give anything a chance. 

 We would kill first and ask questions afterward.  

Beneath the veneer of civilization there is a barbarism.

These creatures from outer space, were benign and not hostile, unless provoked."

The reason for the aliens' visit?

Their craft simply broke down as a human car might snap a fan belt while traveling over the desert.

They are completely unimpressed with us, wanting nothing so much as to be on their way ...

and please leave them alone!

The story is literate and suspenseful, 

becoming ever more engrossing as the truth regarding the aliens is revealed.  

It is thoughtful, intelligent and surprising. 

 Steven Spielberg has said that this film was a prime influence 

on his pet project Close Encounters of the Third Kind.

 The Blue Ray of it can actually be played in a 3D Blue Ray for a 3D TV ...

which I wish I had.

If you see it at Wal-Mart or Amazon -- take a gamble -- 

You will find it still holds up, though in a innocent time capsule sort of way.

Excuse me, Midnight and I are going to re-watch it again.

What is your favorite Sci Fi or Horror film?


  1. I've never seen this movie but you've hooked me on it. I'll watch for it on TCM or get a hold of it somehow. It also sounds a bit like the old Twilight Zone series, which had a few profound, classic episodes that were more about human nature than anything else.

    1. Helena, I think you will enjoy it. And, yes, it is much like a good Twilight Zone episode. :-)

  2. I watched a lot of those movies when I was a kid but only vaguely recall this one. Some deep dialogue there.

    1. I think dialogue like this in my favorite classic movies inspired me to write them as well. What was your favorite Sci Fi movie?

  3. I'm not even sure if I've seen this one. If I have, it was when I was a child watching TV in the early and mid-1960s.

    Can't really pick a favorite science fiction film. I watched a lot of the cheesy 1950s films when I was growing up.

    1. I still remember THIS ISLAND EARTH, WAR OF THE WORLDS, and THEM! fondly. :-)

      Thanks for visiting and staying to chat, David.