War of the Worlds

Release Date: August 26, 1953
Cast: Gene Barry as Dr. Clayton Forrester
Ann Robinson as Sylvia Van Buren
Sir Cedric Hardwicke as the narrator
Length: color 85 minutes
Director: Byron Haskin
Producer: George Pal
Cinematography: George Barnes
Screenplay: David Duncan, Pat Fielder
Music: Leith Stevens
Editting: Barre Lyndon
Budget: $2 million (est.)
Distributor: Paramount Pictures

Interesting Tidbits

This popular 1953 movies is loosely based on H.G. Wells' novel of the same name. It won an oscar for special effects.

Although I didn't notice it on the version on videotape, on the DVD release the wires holding up the alien spacecrafts are visible.

War of the Worlds was filmed in technicolor. This process was expensive and labor-intensive, and used large, bulky, and hot cameras.

Leith Stevens composed the score for another science fiction movie Destination Moon. This film was made in 1950.

The finale of the movie which depicts the final attack by the Martians was originally planned to be shot in 3-D by George Pal. However 3-D was scraped because it proved to be too expensive.

War of the Worlds was a success with the critics and population at large. The New York Times said the following:

"Make no mistake about it, science-fiction, like comic books, is a part of our culture, and George Pal, who produced this latest amalgam of fact and fantasy, is no tyro in this field. Like his previous sorties into interplanetary space - Destination Moon and When Worlds Collide - The War of the Worlds is, for all of its improbabilities, an imaginatively conceived, professionally turned adventure, which makes excellent use of Technicolor, special effects by a crew of experts and impressively drawn backgrounds," New York Times.

The Plot

"The story from the 1898 novel of H. G. Wells is updated to the 1950s for this film, and the setting is moved from the environs of London to southern California. Dr. Clayton Forrester (Gene Barry), a veteran of the Manhattan Project, is fishing near the town of Linda Rosa when a large meteorite lands nearby. At the impact site, he meets Sylvia Van Buren (Ann Robinson) and her uncle, Pastor Dr. Matthew Collins (Lewis Martin). As the meteorite is radioactive and too hot to examine closely, he decides to wait in town for it to cool.

The meteorite unscrews and disgorges a Martian war machine. When the three men who remained behind approach in friendly greeting, it kills them without warning with its Heat-Ray, and blacks out the town's electricity with an EMP Pulse. Forrester and the sheriff are also attacked when they return, but survive. Amid reports of other meteors landing throughout the world, the Marines surround the Martian ship. Three war machines deploy. Pastor Collins approaches them in peace, but they kill him without attempting to communicate. The Marines attack, but the Martians are protected by an impenetrable force field. The invaders use their Heat-Ray and disintegrator rays to vaporize most of the military.

Forrester and Van Buren hide in an abandoned farmhouse but are trapped inside when another meteorite crashes into the house. An "electronic eye" inspects the ruins but fails to spot them. Forrester and Van Buren wound a Martian when the creature leaves its machine; they get a sample of its blood, and the electronic eye. They rejoin Forrester's co-workers at Pacific Tech in Los Angeles, who seek a way to defeat the aliens. With the blood sample and the technology from the farmhouse, the scientists learn about Martian physiology; in particular, that the aliens are physically weak. Their war machines and heat-rays are, nonetheless, defeating all opposition worldwide.

A United States Air Force YB-49 drops an atomic bomb on the Martians' camp as they advance on Los Angeles, without success. The government evacuates cities in danger, but with military force useless the scientists are the last hope for defeating the Martians which, they calculate, will conquer Earth within six days. Widespread panic among the general populace scatters the Pacific Tech group, wrecks its equipment, and separate Forrester and Van Buren.

All seems lost, with humanity helpless before the aliens. Forrester searches for Van Buren in the burning ruins of a Los Angeles under attack. He finds her with others awaiting the end in a church. An approaching Martian war machine suddenly crashes. Forrester realizes that the seemingly all-powerful invaders are dying. As in the book, they have no biological defense against viruses and bacteria which "God in His wisdom had put upon this Earth", saving mankind."
Source: Wikipedia.com.