Retro SciFi Film of the Week…

Earth vs. the Flying Saucers (1956)

The title of this film is very misleading. It makes it sound like a low-budget 50s scifi, but this is actually a very well made movie. I think it's on par with The Day the Earth Stood Still (1952), except this film had a lot more special effects. They used a combination of stop action and other practical effects as well as post processing techniques.

The guy who did the special effects on this film, Ray Harryhauser, invented a technique called Dynamation, a special type of stop action effect. He went on to work on the 7th Voyage of Sinbad (1956) which is probably one of the most well-known stop action/live action films of the era. But this film uses a wide variety of techniques as well as stop action.

The writing and acting are also top-notch. The actors weren't big stars but they were accomplished character actors. It has a fully developed plot and the dialogue was well written. Also, they got a lot of the science facts right on this one, at least more than usual for a Hollywood scifi. They even tried to explain special relativity, incorrectly of course, but they tried.

I highly recommend this film to anyone who likes old science fiction movies.

It’s just unfortunate that they gave this film such a cheap-sounding name. They even released it as a double-feature with The Werewolf. (I guess film marketing has improved since then as well as special effects. 😆 )
- - - -

- - - -

accessible image description:

an ugly movie poster with orange and white headlines, muted colors, with images of flying saucers that are shooting rays to the ground and robot creatures walking around, the large headlines say flying saucers attack! warning! take cover! earth vs the flying saucers, small headlines say flying saucers invade our planet: washington, london, paris, moscow, take cover!, a smaller inset image of a man and woman looking scared and holding each other.

@Pat Thanks! I love old sci-fi movies. Ray Harryhausen was a genius with stop-motion. I can’t remember if I’ve seen this one so I’ll keep it on the radar.

@Pat very interesting. Might give this one a go.

@ThePrimo @Pat

Please note the copy is in French. Turner Classic movies seems to have to too.

I agree this film is significantly better than its title might suggest. The plot is decent, the acting good, the technobabble not laughable. I just watched it for the first time. Some observations in passing.

If you're the guard for the Senate hearing, checking the lead scientist's ID is a good start. Just letting his assistant/wife walk in with him unchecked is a poor finish.

The sequence where several characters are running through a forest fire is obviously them jogging in place. (Matte or rear-projection screen, I can't say.) This could have been done better. The rear-projection at the train station was also a bit wonky.

If you're going to mention that the alien spacesuit helmet you recovered is unbreakably strong, probably best not to have a closeup of the chipped edge of the plastic, and the crack where the two molded halves are separating.

I like the sequence where the row of computers that look like foosball tables displays its output in three-inch-tall script handwriting via a pantagraph.

We can expect "heavy storms, earthquakes, and tidal waves" from the "sunspots" (the stock footage showed a solar prominence) the aliens induced? I don't think anyone in the 1950s really thought that.

A tiny bit, but I liked the rifle toss. And of course the stop-motion work by Ray Harryhausen is very good. I especially liked when the Washington Monument toppled.

#ClassicMovies #1950sMovies #BMovies
Sign in to participate in the conversation
Qoto Mastodon

QOTO: Question Others to Teach Ourselves
An inclusive, Academic Freedom, instance
All cultures welcome.
Hate speech and harassment strictly forbidden.