On this day, 5 June, in 1953, It Came From Outer Space was released. It’s especially notable because it isn’t a film you can easily reduce to an allegory about communist fears.
Listening to people now days you would think that the only thing on the minds of Americans in the 1950s was the rise of communism. Certainly, people were afraid of that — mostly because they were constantly told to be afraid of it by the media’s easy alliance with the government. But people feared a lot of things. And people really did fear invaders from Mars!
But It Came From Outer Space is a hopeful film with nice aliens who just happened to crash on Earth and are trying to repair their space ship and get back home.
Today, I’m pretty tired of this. I want to bang my head on a wall whenever I hear about Gene Roddenberry “optimistic vision” of the future. What it ended up being was his boring vision of later television drama where everyone is so well-adjusted the plots seem more like clever puzzles than stories about human beings.
It Came From Outer Space isn’t like that at all. That’s mostly because everyone thinks that John, played by Richard Carlson (Creature from the Black Lagoon), is suffering from a concussion. And then when the sheriff does believe him, there’s more conflict.
And the moral of the story is something we all know: humans suck. It makes a great pairing with Invasion of the Body Snatchers.
It Came From Outer Space also features Barbara Rush (When Worlds Collide) and Russell Johnson (This Island Earth). It’s based on a Ray Bradbury story. And made by the same group that would bring us Creature from the Black Lagoon the next year.
You can get a good print of it (MPEG4) for free at Archive.org. Unfortunately, it doesn’t embed correctly. There is a Blu-ray of it available that comes with a commentary by Tom Weaver, for those who are fans.