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Although overshadowed in recent years by the John Carpenter version of the same source story, THE THING FROM ANOTHER WORLD ($20) remains a masterpiece of paranoid 50’s science fiction. Although the direction is credited Christian Nyby and the screenplay to Charles Lederer, producer Howard Hawks’ fingerprints are clearly all over Hawks-ian styled final product. Adapted from Who Goes There? by John W. Campbell Jr., THE THING FROM ANOTHER WORLD tells to story of what happens when the military investigates a reported crash near an arctic research station. Captain Patrick Hendry (Kenneth Tobey) and his team are assigned to fly to the remote station after the research station scientists report that something has gone down in the nearby vicinity. When the crash site is found, it turns out that whatever saucer shaped object is buried beneath the ice is not terrestrial in origin. Unfortunately, efforts to extricate the spaceship from the ice lead to its destruction. Now, despite the loss of the ship, the investigative team does manage to return to the research station with an occupant from the spacecraft- neatly frozen in a block of ice.

While lead scientist Dr. Arthur Carrington (Robert Cornthwaite) wants to examine the extraterrestrial visitor, Captain Hendry decides to wait for orders from the higher ups before allowing him to proceed. Of course, this becomes a moot point when The Thing (James Arness) in the block of ice is unintentionally defrosted and comes to life. After killing several sled dogs, a remaining tissue sample indicates that The Thing is some form of sentient plant life, or as they put it in the film, an "intellectual carrot" that requires blood to survive and reproduce. The situation quickly turns into a battle for survival at the snowbound artic station, even though intellectual curiosity and a desire to communicate drives Dr. Carrington to try save The Thing from those that would destroy it. The cast of THE THING FROM ANOTHER WORLD also features Margaret Sheridan, Douglas Spencer, James R. Young, Dewey Martin, Robert Nichols, William Self, Eduard Franz, Sally Creighton and Paul Frees.

Warner Home Video has made THE THING FROM ANOTHER WORLD available on DVD in a black and white presentation that frames the film in its proper 1.37:1 full screen aspect ratio. For the most part, the transfer is quite nice, but there are some rough patches. A couple of outdoor shots that I would not deem "stock footage" display heavy blemishes and or scratches. Additionally, there are other shots that have contrast problems, which manifest themselves in form of whites that appear blown out. Again, these problems are relegated to a few individual shots that do not constitute a significant portion of the film. At almost all times, the image on the DVD appears pretty sharp and rather nicely defined. Blacks are accurate and whites look clean. Contrast is generally good, except for that handful of shots that indicated above. Print damage is pretty minor, excepted as noted, with some very minor blemishes and scratches being the being the worst of it. A grain structure is noticeable at various times, but is never excessive.

THE THING FROM ANOTHER WORLD features a pretty good sounding Dolby Digital monaural soundtrack. Since the recordings are more than half a century old, fidelity is decidedly limited. However, Dimitri Tiomkin’s fine theremin augmented score sounds perfectly nice with a bit of amplification applied. Most of the background hiss and other audible anomalies have been expunged from the track, leaving it rather clean and crisp sounding. Dialogue is always completely understandable, even the portions that overlap in typical Howard Hawks’ fashion. No other language tracks are included on the DVD, although English, French and Spanish subtitles are provided. Music underscores the basic interactive menus, which allow one access to the standard scene selection and set up features, as well as theatrical trailer.

THE THING FROM ANOTHER WORLD is an out and out science fiction classic that I am thrilled to have on DVD. The presentation isn’t one hundred percent perfect, but it won’t give fans much to complain about either. If you are a science fiction or Howard Hawks fan, then THE THING FROM ANOTHER WORLD is a must have DVD. Recommended.



The Thing from Another World (1951)


DVD reviews are Copyright © 2003 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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