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WHEN WORLDS COLLIDE

I kind of fell sorry for today’s youth. Sure they have hundreds of channels of things to watch, but most of it is garbage. When I was a kid, there were only a handful of broadcast stations, most of which showed a lot of great old movies during the course of the day. Being inundated with music videos, sitcoms and trash television, today’s youth are ignoring on a lot of wonderful entertainment. This of course, brings us to WHEN WORLDS COLLIDE ($30); another classic movie that I watched over and over again throughout my childhood that has finally been released on DVD by the folks at Paramount Home Entertainment.

 

By today’s science fiction standards, the situations in WHEN WORLDS COLLIDE do seem hokey, and many would argue that the major plot points are based on very bad science. In addition, the special effects look fairly cheesy, although this George Pal production did win an Oscar for its effects back in 1951. But then again, one has to take into account that WHEN WORLDS COLLIDE was made in a very innocent age, when movies were a fairly disposable medium designed to entertain the masses for a very brief period of time. However, if it weren’t for WHEN WORLDS COLLIDE and other classic sci-fi movies of the fifties, it’s doubtful that modern day extravaganzas such as ARMAGEDDON and DEEP IMPACT would exist.

The plot of WHEN WORLDS COLLIDE concerns a devastating celestial discovery made in an observatory in South Africa. Hoping to confirm their findings, a pilot named David Randall (Richard Derr) is used a courier to deliver the pictures of two rapidly moving planetary bodies to American scientists for further study. Unfortunately, Dr. Cole Hendron (Larry Keating) confirms both the data, and the worst fears of the scientists in South Africa- a rogue star and orbiting planet are on a collision course with the Earth. After failing to convince the United Nations of their findings, Dr. Hendron, along with his daughter Joyce (Barbara Rush) and other like-minded scientists utilize private funding from various industrialists to begin constructing rocket ships that will carry a handful of human survivors to the planet orbiting the rogue star. However, to get all the money needed for this Noah’s Ark project, Dr. Hendron is forced to deal with a bitter, crippled multi-millionaire named Sydney Stanton (John Hoyt), who is only interested in saving his own hide from the upcoming Armageddon. The cast of WHEN WORLDS COLLIDE also features Peter Hanson, Judith Ames, Alden 'Stephen' Chase, Frank Cady and Hayden Rorke.

Paramount Home Entertainment has made WHEN WORLDS COLLIDE available on DVD in its proper 1.37:1 full screen aspect ratio. Although the film element does show some signs that WHEN WORLDS COLLIDE is half a century old, the transfer is really rather nice. In general, the image is pretty sharp and offers a respectable level of detail. There is some film grain present in the picture, but it is never bothersome. Also, there are some blue flashes that occur at various times, but this is a minor problem related to film elements created in the old IB Technicolor process. Colors themselves are pretty well saturated and give a good indication of what a Technicolor print might have looked like. Flesh tones have the pallor that only a Hollywood makeup man could supply. Throughout the course of the film, there are noticeable color variations that occur every time there is an optical transition. Additionally, the image becomes at bit softer and grainier during these optical fades and transitions. Blacks are suitably deep and the picture has fairly smooth contrast. Digital compression artifacts are well concealed on the cleanly authored DVD.

The Dolby Digital monaural soundtrack is in good shape for its age. There are no problems with either excessive background hiss or distortion. Dialogue is cleanly rendered and one is always able to understand the actors’ voices (those that are speaking English, anyway). There are the expected frequency limitations in this older soundtrack that keep the sound effects and music from having any true depth, but neither is reproduced in a harsh or tinny manner. A French monaural soundtrack is also encoded onto the DVD, as are English subtitles. The basic interactive menus provide access to the standard scene selection and set up features, as well as a theatrical trailer.

 

WHEN WORLDS COLLIDE is a very enjoyable science fiction film from the 1950s that will appeal to film buffs and genre fans alike. Paramount’s presentation is a very good rendering of this half-century-old sci-fi classic, making this DVD worth checking out. Perhaps having it on DVD will interest a new generation of fans in WHEN WORLDS COLLIDE. Additionally, I look forward to more classic sci-fi offerings from the Paramount library; perhaps we will soon get to see I MARRIED A MONSTER FROM OUTER SPACE on DVD.

 
WHEN WORLDS COLLIDE 


When Worlds Collide

  


DVD reviews are Copyright 2001 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.


 

 

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