The Thing From Another World
Release Date: April 29, 1951
Cast: Kenneth Tobey as Capt. Patrick Hendry
Margaret Sheridan as Nikki Nicholson
Douglas Spencer as Ned Scott
Robert Cornthwaite as Dr. Carrington
George Fenneman as Dr. Redding
Dewey Martin as Chief Sergeant Bob
William Self as Corp. Barnes
John Dierkes as Dr. Chapman
Paul Frees as Dr. Voorhees
Eduard Franz as Dr. Stern
James Arness as the Thing
Length: BW 81 minutes
Director: Christian Nyby
Producer: Howard Hawks
Cinematography: Russell Harlan, ASC
Screenplay: Charles Lederer
Music: Dimitri Tiomkin
Distributor: RKO Radio Pictures
Studio: Winchester Pictures Corp.
The Thing From Another World is based on a 1938 novella by John W. Campbell, Jr. The name of his novella is Who Goes There? Due to a limited budget, Howard Hawks could not remain faithful to John's original story.
In Who Goes There?, the alien is able to absorb and physically mimic any living entity. John Carpenter did a remake in 1982 which was faithful to Campbell's story.
John Carpenter loved the original film, and he payed homage to it by including a scene from it in his 1978 movie Halloween. He paid tribute to another '50s science fiction blockbuster, Forbidden Planet, in the same film.
In all fairness to Howard Hawks, the technology did not then exist to pull off Campbell's alien with any degree of believability. And even if it did, the budget would not have allowed it.
Kenneth Tobey who played Capt. Hendry appeared in two other sci fi classics, It Came From Beneath the Sea and The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms.
Although not verifiable, supposedly the makeup artist went through several different alien faces for the creature. He would test each for for impact by taking James Arness for a drive through Hollywood. On one occasion, a woman in an automobile next to their car screamed and fainted upon seeing Arness. The makeup artists knew he had the right facial makeup.
Critics raved about The Thing From Another World, and considered it to be one of 1951's best films.
A U.S. Air Force re-supply crew is officially dispatched by General Fogerty (David McMahon) from Anchorage, Alaska at the unusual request of Dr. Carrington (Robert Cornthwaite), chief of a group of scientists working at a North Pole base, Polar Expedition Six. They have evidence that an unknown flying craft of some kind crashed nearby. Ned Scott (Douglas Spencer), a reporter in search of a story, tags along. A minor romantic sub-plot involves Captain Patrick Hendry (Kenneth Tobey) and Carrington's secretary, Nikki Nicholson (Margaret Sheridan).
Doctor Carrington briefs the airmen, and Doctor Redding (George Fenneman) shows high speed photos of an object moving downward, up and on a straight line - not the movements of a meteor. Hendry wonders to the doctor, "Twenty thousand tons of steel is an awful lot of metal for an airplane." "It is for the sort of aeroplane we know, Captain," Carrington responds. From Geiger counter readings, Hendry's crew and the scientists fly to the crash site aboard the supply team's ski-equipped C-47.
he craft is buried in the ice, with a vertical stabilizer protruding from the surface. They are shocked to discover that the shape of the craft is that of a flying saucer. They try to free it with thermite heat explosives, but in doing so accidentally destroy the craft. Crew Chief Sergeant Bob's (Dewey Martin) geiger counter locates a body nearby, frozen in the ice.
They excavate the tall body, preserving it in a large ice block and return to the research outpost as a major storm moves in, making communication with Anchorage very difficult. Some scientists want to thaw out the creature immediately, but Hendry orders everyone to wait until he receives orders from Air Force authorities. Feeling uneasy guarding the body, Corporal Barnes (William Self) covers the ice block with a blanket, not realizing it is an electric blanket, and the creature thaws out, revives and escapes to the outside cold.
The creature wards off an attack by twelve sled dogs, and the scientists recover an arm, bitten off by the dogs. As the arm warms up, it ingests the blood from one of the dogs and begins to come back to life. They learn that, while appearing humanoid, the creature is in fact an advanced form of plant life. Dr. Carrington is convinced that the creature can be reasoned with and has much to teach them, but Dr. Chapman (John Dierkes) and other colleagues disagree. The Air Force men are just as sure it may be dangerous.
Carrington soon realizes that the creature requires blood to reproduce. He later discovers the hidden body of a sled dog, still warm, drained of blood, in the greenhouse. He has volunteers from his own team, Dr Voorhees (Paul Frees), Dr Olsen and Dr. Auerbach, stand guard overnight, waiting for the creature's return.
Later, Carrington secretly uses blood plasma from the infirmary to incubate and nourish seedlings he has taken from the arm, failing to advise his colleagues or Capt Hendry of what he has done, or of having found the bodies of Olsen and Auerbach, drained of blood. Dr Stern (Eduard Franz) is almost killed, but escapes to warn the others. Nikki reluctantly updates Hendry when he asks about missing plasma. Hendry confronts Carrington in the greenhouse, where he sees that the creature's planted seed pods have grown at an alarming rate.
Dr Wilson (Everett Glass) advises Carrington that he hasn't slept, but Carrington is unconcerned. The creature returns and the USAF crew, after gunfire has no effect, trap it in the greenhouse.
The creature escapes and tries to break into another part of the camp. Following a suggestion from Nikki, Hendry and his men set it alight with kerosene, causing it to flee into the night.
Nikki notes that the temperature inside the station is dropping quickly, probably due to a cut fuel line. The cold forces the scientists and the airmen to make a final stand in the generator room. They rig a booby trap, hoping to electrocute the thing. As the creature advances on them, Carrington twice tries to save it, once by shutting off the power, and then by trying to reason with the creature directly. It throws him aside, before falling into the trap and being reduced to a smoldering husk. Its seedlings are also destroyed. Scotty files his "story of a lifetime" by radio to Anchorage, warning his listeners to "Watch the skies!"