“It Came From Outer Space” (1953)
A meteor that could easily be mistaken for a Christmas ornament crashes into the Arizona desert and mysterious galactic visitors descend upon an altogether peaceful Southwestern hamlet to wreak havoc and spread paranoiac suspicion. (Is there, perhaps, a dangerous shortage of yucca plants in the far reaches that accounts for the attraction of this desolate area by the cinematic menaces of this film and countless others to follow?) Welcome to the continuing saga of attributing allegorical Cold War connections to almost half of the films of the decade, especially in science fiction, in what is certainly the most pedestrian of what are generally considered Jack Arnold’s 1950’s B-movie SF classics, “It Came From Outer Space”.
The sleepy town of Sand Rock, Arizona is the site for a giant fiery meteor to come crashing to earth, completely unnoticed by all (this is a sleepy town) except for casual astronomer John Putnam (Richard Carlson), who just happens to be is gazing at the sky with his girl Ellen (Barbara Rush) when the giant object strikes terra firma. Putnam, being an alarmist, alerts the town, including the archetypal doubting sheriff Matt Warren (Charles Drake), reporting that the object is, in fact, a spaceship, but that it has been subsequently buried by a rockslide. Assuming the role of Chicken Little, Putnam is dismissed until certain members of the town disappear and then reappear acting strangely. (Though it’s fairly easy to spot the imposters ahead of time when the wailing theremin is cued.)
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