Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Earth vs the Flying Saucers |
Color Special Edition
Actors: Hugh Marlowe, Joan Taylor, Donald Curtis, Morris Ankrum, John Zaremba
Director: Fred F. Sears
Genres: Science Fiction & Fantasy
Dr. Russell Marvin heads up Operation Skyhook, which is tasked with sending rockets into the upper atmosphere to probe for future space flights. Unfortunately, all the rockets are somehow disappearing. While investigating ... more »
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Harryhausen versus the Sci Fi Cliches
Thomas F. Bertonneau | Oswego, NY United States | 02/14/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Here is a list - for people jaded by "Star Wars"-type digital special effects and Bruce Willis-type smart-aleck dialogue - of what the classic science fiction film "Earth versus the Flying Saucers" (1956) does not boast: it is not processed in Technicolor but only in (glorious) black-and-white; it does not show whole cities sprung sky-high by death-rays or fleets of numberless star cruisers nuking it out among the nebulae; its aliens do not look like the dripping unsought-for results of recombinant DNA experimentation, nor are they invulnerable so that stopping them depends on a hasty "deus ex machina" tacked on by the screenwriters; its scientist hero and his wife are mature people, not teenagers or "twenty-somethings" escaped from prime-time television; they act with deliberation and do not pump air or dance a jig when their efforts prove effective; when people die in the film, they die without bravado. People who insist on such things should know in advance that their particular adrenaline-addiction will not be fixed by this film. Intelligent and discriminating viewers, on the other hand, can expect the superb model-work of Ray Harryhausen deployed economically but satisfyingly throughout the film. They can also expect thoughtful, jargon-free dialogue from screenwriters George Worthington Yates and Raymond T. Marcus, working from a story by Kurt ("Donovan's Brain") Siodmak, and taught direction from Fred F. Sears. "EVFS" gratifyingly violates one of the formulas of 1950s sci-fi cinema: it does not make the audience wait to see the alien nemesis, continually postponing a disappointing appearance, but exposes its first saucer within two minutes of the opening segment. As Dr. Russell Marvin (Hugh Marlowe) and his newlywed wife (Joan Taylor) drive down a California desert highway toward the rocket test-site where Marvin directs his earth satellite program, an enormous craft swoops down on them, maneuvering around the speeding car. Both are fazed by the experience and don't quite believe their senses. When Marvin tries to launch another one of his "artificial moons," a saucer lands on the grounds; soldiers fire on the robot-like aliens, whereupon the craft takes to the air again and uses its ray to blast the installation. It is while waiting to be rescued from the bunker where they have been caught that Marvin and his wife discover that their tape-recorder contains a message from aliens, beamed at them during their close encounter on the highway. The message is apparently friendly, but the aliens turn out to be intent on taking the earth by force. Marvin and his scientist cronies race to develop a weapon to neutralize the saucer-fleet, which makes its attack on Washington D.C. in the film's brilliant finale. Supporting performances come from the ubiquitous Morris Ankrum and from Donald Curtis. Ankrum appears in nine out of ten 1950s sci-fi "B" movies, or so it seems. (See "Flight to Mars" or "Kronos.") Midway through the film, Marvin and his wife, in company with his wife's father, an Air Force general played by Ankrum, board a saucer that has landed on the beach, ostensibly on the Virginia shore. The location is actually Westward Beach, in Malibu, about a thousand feet from where I lived as a teenager, looking as deserted an alien as it is possible to imagine. It is a remarkably stark scene. The interior of the saucer is sparsely and therefore effectively conceived. The aliens regard themselves as supermen, classically "beyond good and evil." In the assault on D.C., Ray Harryhausen contrives to destroy every major national monument in the city. That the alien hardware is not indestructible lends the story credibility: the implication is that humanity is equal to the battle, provided that it does not panic. The DVD of "EVFS" includes two featurettes, "This is Dynamation," about Harryhausen's signature technique, and the more specialized "The Making of Earth versus the Flying Saucers." Presentation is in wide-screen, a real boon. (The VHS was in pan-and-scan television format.) This is a terrifically entertaining item from the black-and-white "alien invasion" genre. Highly recommended."
The essential Alien Invasion flim of the 50s. Great effects!
Ryan Harvey | Los Angeles, CA USA | 04/21/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Released in 1956, "Earth vs. the Flying Saucers" was the second film visual effects genius Ray Harryhausen did with producer Charles Schneer. They had previously worked together on the gigantic octopus vs. San Francisco film "It Came from beneath the Sea," and would go on to craft a long series of color fantasy movies that remain favorites with all ages today. "Earth vs. the Flying Saucers" (or "E v. FS" if you prefer) arose from Schneer's interest in the flying saucer-sighting craze of the day. Curt Siodmak, author of many of Universal's classic monster films, hatched the original story of a full-scale invasion by alien craft, but the final script is credited to George Worthing Yates and Raymond T. Marcus. Harryhausen found himself animating not monsters, but futuristic spacecraft. Thus, the film is quite a departure from his usual fare, but nevertheless Harryhausen infuses the movie with his genius and personality. "E v. FS" is the ESSENTIAL alien invasion flick of the decade, far more entertaining than George Pal's stuffy "The War of the Worlds." Everything you want from 50s science-fiction flick is here, and with Harryhausen's visual effects, it all looks damn cool too!The husband and wife science team of Hugh Marlowe and Joan Taylor (both fun performances) investigate a rash of saucer sighting. The aliens have come to Earth to seek aid, but when they land the trigger-happy military opens fire and the aliens retaliate with a ruthless war of destruction. But don't fear, our peppy scientist couple have come up with a wild invention that may stop the destructive alien visitors. It all concludes in a wild scene over Washington D.C., and not all the monuments end up in good shape.Ironically, Harryhausen doesn't have very positive feelings about the film: "It remains for me the least favourite of all our pictures. There is a dividing line between science fiction and fantasy, although they can occasionally overlap.... Fantasy has a poetic appeal radiating romance and warmth, whereas science fiction, with all its preoccupations with machines, politics and scientific apparatus, has a tendency to reflect coldness and indifference."Well, Ray is certainly entitled to his own opinions about his work and his preferece for fantasy, but I think "E v. FS" works amazingly. There's a general giddiness about it, and a sense of invention, that speaks directly to modern viewers tired of the overblown and grim action and science fiction films of today. Harryhausen's flying saucers astonish, moving with jittery speed and very animated motions. The aliens themselves wield awesome technology, like death rays, brain probing beams, and vibrating shields that protect their ships (stunning effects, all of them). The budget limitations resulted in alien suits that are bit simplistic, but they still work. And the finale in Washington is a humdinger. Harryhausen's models and the intricate portrayal of the destruction still look astonishing. He even manages to make creative use of stock footage, instead of merely relying on it for a cheap shortcut as so many other 50s science fiction pictures did.This excellent DVD presents the film in its original 1.85:1 format (I'll bet you didn't know it was a widescreen film) enhanced for widescreen TVs. Also included is "The Harryhausen Chronicles," a feature-length documentary on Harryhausen's work; it appears on all of Columbia's Harryhausen DVDs, so you might have seen it before. New for this DVD is an interview between Harryhausen and director Joe Dante ("Gremlins"). It's short, but you learn some great secrets about the film straight from its creator's mouth, and you also and get to see the original saucer models. Dante also shares his personal memories about seeing the film as a child.This is a must for any Harryhausen fan or anybody who loves the 1950s Golden Age of alien invaders."
Harryhausen Fun Factor
Gary F. Taylor | Biloxi, MS USA | 12/12/2001
(3 out of 5 stars)
"So far as story goes, the title says it all, and you won't find any brilliant performances, acclaimed writing, high-concept storylines, or big budgets here. But you will find Ray Harryhausen's stop-motion special effects, and that counts for a lot.This is not among Harryhausen's more elaborate works--those would come a bit later in his career--but even so he creates some very interesting effects. Unlike most sci-fi efforts, including recent ones with computer-graphic effects, Harryhausen's flying saucers actually move in a way completely unlike anything you've seen anywhere, suggesting completely alien intelligence and machinery. In fact, the saucers are so interesting to watch they assume the role of the film's main character!Kids weaned on Star Wars-style special effects will probably be bored by the film, and the even more forgiving fans of 1950s science-fiction flicks will find the over-all movie tepid. But the Harryhausen fun-factor cannot be denied, and fans of his work won't want to miss this one."
Chromachoice? I'd rather not.
Howie | Arkansas | 01/06/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This is a 2 disk set. The main film is, like "20 Million Miles to Earth: 50th Anniversary Edition", on 1 disk in both a digitally-restored black & white original version and newly colorized version. This is made possible by a process Sony calls "Chromachoice". This allows you to switch between the color and b/w versions of the film at any time by simply pressing the "angle" button on your remote. It's a good idea but some would argue that it's flawed in execution. I'm one of those. On my player the "angle" icon comes up every time there is a chapter stop and will NOT go away until I press the "clear" button. This is very annoying but at least I can get it off the screen! Based on reports on "20 Million..." other players will display this icon the entire film. There may or may not be a way of disabling this on your player. Frankly, I would rather choose from a menu which version to watch as the novelty of switching wears off after a while and the annoyance of the constantly appearing icon does not. While this is possible you still get the icon "popup" at chapter stops.
Special features on a 2nd disk are:
Audio Commentary by Ray Harryhausen and Other Visual Effects Specialists
Featurette: Harryhausen on Earth vs. The Flying Saucers
Featurette: A Present Day Look at Stop Motion
Featurette: Tim Burton Sits Down with Ray Harryhausen
Featurette: Interview with Joan Taylor
Featurette: David Schecter on Film Music's Unsung Hero
Featurette: The Hollywood Blacklist and Bernard Gordon
Video Photo Galleries
Advertising Artwork video montage of film's ad materials by Producer Arnold Kunert
Sneak Peek of Digital Comic Book Flying Saucers vs. the Earth
All-in-all a good package for a classic Harryhausen film marred only by "Chromachoice" which reduces the score from 5 to 4 stars.
If you are concerned about possible problems with "Chromachoice" on your player, I recommend that you borrow/rent a copy of the newly remastered versions of "20 Million Miles to Earth" , "Earth vs. the Flying Saucers", or "It Came from Beneath the Sea" first to check your player for compatibility issues."