This week I watched the 1956 film, Earth vs. the Flying Saucers, starring Hugh Marlowe and Joan Taylor. Marlowe was also known for his lead in The Day the Earth Stood Still, and Taylor played the leading lady in 20 Million Miles to Earth. The models and special effects in Earth v Saucers were creations of Ray Harryhausen.
Now let me start by saying that this isn’t a review of the film, because I don’t think I could do right by the critic’s standards. I didn’t rent this movie because of the great story line or the great acting. I didn’t rent it for the amazing special effects or for any terrific technological breakthroughs.
Honestly, I rented it for the cheese factor, and in that respect, WOW! It certainly delivered. My guys and I enjoyed it thoroughly.
We marveled right away that the film was in blu-ray. Why bother, right?
We loved that we could choose whether to watch in the original black and white or the colorized version. We even had the option of toggling between the two. We chose the colorized, mostly because it’s huge fun to see some people pasty while others are bright orange—and all of the actors have gray teeth—because the color techs never want to mess with colorizing teeth.
When we watch these types of shows, our family abandons the “no talking” policy completely. As the flying saucers hover and bob over the car of the leads, we all screamed panicked “Ahhh!”s and yelled at the crazy alien drivers to get off the road.
When Marlowe, as Dr. Russell Marvin, put on the alien’s helmet, we giggled at his line. “I have a peculiar range of vision.” Everyone he looked at appeared slightly warped, as if the camera lens had gelatin smeared on it. We suspect that because of the vagueness of the line, the filmmakers had no idea what kind of special film effect they would use. Well, it was peculiar.
When the aliens demonstrated their fearsome power by destroying a battleship, one of the characters stated, “There were 300 men on that ship.”
For the rest of the movie, no matter what the aliens exploded, one of us smart alecks would pipe up.
“There were 300 men in that building.”
Or better yet, “There were 300 men in that jeep.”
We had a blast. (See what I did there?)
We made comments about the actors: “He looks like a worried Mitt Romney.”
We remarked about the foreboding: “Well, that’s the last she’s gonna see of him.”
We played our own satire of how the setting was chosen: “I’ve got lots of models of Washington D.C. memorials and landmarks that we can blow up or knock over.”
We had fun, and that’s the purpose of family movie nights.
I encourage you to celebrate a family movie night like this, too. Forget the rules. Don’t worry about whether you’ll learn something. I guarantee you will. You’ll discover that your kids (or parents, or siblings) are just as silly as you imagined.
That’s a wrap for this Toast to Cinema. Thanks for reading!