Red Planet Mars

Release Date: May 15, 1952
Starring: Peter Graves as Chris Cronyn
Andrea King as Linda Cronyn
Morris Ankrum as Secretary of Defense Sparks
Marvin Miller as Arjenian
Director: Harry Horner
Producers: Donald Hyde, Anthpny Veiller
Screenplay: Anthony Veiller, John L. Balderston
Cinematographer: Joseph Biroc
Music: Mahlon Merrick
Editor: Francis D. Lyon
Distributor: United Artists
Time: BW 87 mins.

Purchase Red Planet Mars (DVD) at the TCM store.

Interesting Tidbits

Red Planet Mars was based on the 1932 play "Red Planet" written jointly by John L. Balderston and John Hoare.

Morris Ankrum who played Secretary of Defense Sparks in this film, appeared in a total of six sci-fi movies. The other '50s movies are:

  • Rocketship X-M (1950)
  • Invaders From Mars (1953)
  • Earth vs. the Flying Saucers (1956)
  • Kronos (1957)
  • Beginning of the End (1957)

The Plot

An American astronomer obtains images of Mars suggesting large-scale environmental changes are occurring at a pace that can only be by wrought by intelligent beings with advanced technology. A colleague at the same time claims to have been contacting Mars by radio, first through an exchange of mathematical concepts and then through answers to specific questions, that convey Mars as a utopia. This knowledge leads to political and economic chaos, especially in the West.

The American government imposes a news blackout after the first four messages, only to reveal many messages later that Earth's people can be saved if they return to the worship of God. Revolution sweeps the globe, including the Soviet Union. But there remains doubt about the messages being genuine, as an ex-Nazi who developed the original communication device prototype prepares to announce that he has been duping the Americans with false messages from a secret Soviet-funded radio transmitter high in the Andes mountains of South America. The mystery thickens as it appears the messages may have continued even after the secret transmitter was destroyed in an avalanche.