war of the worlds (1953)
REVIEWER: lyall carter
A small town in California is attacked by Martians, beginning a worldwide invasion.
The H G Wells epic The War of the Worlds has had an immense impact on the entertainment world from the public pandemonium caused by the Orson Wells produced radio show of the 1930’s to the updated Spielberg epic of the early 2000’s. But the 1953 version of The War of the Worlds is not just a technical marvel but a thrilling adventure film to boot.
Scientist Clayton Forrester (Gene Barry) and Sylvia Van Buren (Ann Robinson) are the first to arrive at the site of a meteorite crash. Soon after, an alien war machine emerges and begins killing at random. The Marines are called in, but they're no match for the aliens' force field. Forrester and Van Buren, however, are able to wound one of the creatures and procure a sample of its blood. They take it to Los Angeles where they hope, through testing, to be able to discover the aliens' weakness.
While The War of the Worlds takes a while to get going with a protracted first act, it's the final two acts where it drives the suspense home. There is a scene where Forrester and Van Buren are hiding in the remnants of a house destroyed by a Martian meteor and a prodding alien eye is searching for life. You could cut the tension with a knife - its edge of your seat kinda stuff.
As well as being one of the first truly sci-fi big budget films that was a box office smash, The War of the Worlds technical achievements in special effects and sound design still hold up today. From the cutting design spaceships to the sound of the ray gun, The War of the Worlds is a technical masterpiece.
The 1953 version of The War of the Worlds is not just a technical marvel but a thrilling adventure film to boot.