Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Overlooked Movies -- It Came From Outer Space

When I was a kid, I loved 3-D. The theater in my hometown wasn't equipped to show movies in that format, but for my 12th birthday, my aunt Ellen took me to Dallas to see It Came from Outer Space. This was a big deal in 1953. A trip to Dallas from my hometown, a distance of 90 miles, was like going to Hong Kong now. It required lots of planning and preparation, and for me Dallas was about as exotic as Hong Kong.

Almost as big a thrill as seeing the movie was getting to go to the Majestic Theater. Here's what Wikipedia has to say about that wonderful edifice: The interior lobby and auditorium was of baroque design with decorative detailing consisting of Corinthian columns, egg-and-dart molding, cartouches, and Roman swags and fretwork. The lobby contained a magnificent black-and-white Italian-style Vermont marble floor and twin marble staircases. Other features included an ornate cage elevator serving the two balconies, crystal chandeliers, brass mirrors, ferns and a marble fountain.[2] A concession stand was added to the lobby in the late 1940s.

The auditorium featured a ceiling "sky" of floating clouds and mechanically controlled twinkling stars. Seating was provided on the main floor and in two balconies in woven cane seats. The stage was flanked by massive Corinthian columns, with an orchestra pit in front. Backstage consisted of twelve dressing rooms, a loft to accommodate scenery and a set of wooden lighting controls. A Kilgen theater organ opus 3054 size 2/8 was also installed.[4]

I was, to say the least, impressed. Could the movie live up to the building? Well, it could for me. The stars are Richard Carlson and Barbara Rush. Carlson plays an amateur astronomer who sees a meteor crash in the desert, except it's not a meteor. It's an alien spaceship, as he discovers when he goes to investigate. Nobody believes him, naturally. That's the way it always is in these things. And since the ship is covered by a landslide almost as soon as Carlson finds it, nobody can see it. Nobody else has seen the alien that Carlson sees, either.

You can see where all this is going. It's yet another paranoid thriller from the '50s, and pretty soon weird things begin to happen. People who go out to the desert act strangely. Some of them disappear. Some people even begin to believe Carlson.

I don't want to give too much away, but the movie doesn't work out like you might expect. The aliens are scary, but they aren't what they seem. The movie is one of the better ones of the '50s, though not really in the top rank. I'd love to see it again in 3-D in the Majestic.

1 comment:

pattinase (abbott) said...

That theater was exactly the kind I saw STRANGERS WHEN WE MEET IN. And the reason we got all gussied up before going.