REVIEW: THE WAR OF THE WORLD (1953)


CAST

Gene Barry (The Purple Mask)
Ann Robinson (Gun Brothers)
Les Tremayne (The Racket)
Robert Cornthwaite (Futureworld)
Lewis Martin (The Wild North)
Paul Frees (The Shaggy Dog)
Carolyn Jones (The Addams Family)

war-of-the-worlds-1953-martian-hand-on-shoulder-sylvia-van-buren-ann-robinsonIn southern California, Dr. Clayton Forrester, a scientist who had worked on the Manhattan Project, is fishing with colleagues when a large object crashes near the town of Linda Rosa. At the impact site, he meets Sylvia Van Buren and her uncle, Pastor Matthew Collins. Later that day, the “cylinder” opens and the inhabitants of the ship kill a welcoming party, simultaneously shutting down all technology in the town with an electromagnetic pulse. The United States military surround the crash site in battle formation as reports pour in of identical objects landing all over the world and destroying cities. Collins attempts to make peace with the Martians before being killed himself. The Martian war machines effortlessly defeat the military with a “Heat-Ray”.
war-of-the-worlds-1953-martians-attack-humansAttempting to escape, Forrester and Sylvia hide in an abandoned farm house. They begin to develop romantic feelings for each other before the house is buried by yet another cylinder. They encounter and dismember an “electronic eye” from the Martian machine, and collect a blood sample from a Martian wounded by Forrester to protect Sylvia. They manage to sneak away from the aliens without being seen. Many of the major capitals of the world are destroyed in the attacks and the United States government makes the decision to use nuclear weapons against the invaders. Forrester brings the Martian camera and blood samples to his team at Pacific Tech, with hope they can study the technology. An attempt to destroy a camp of Martians by nuclear strike fails due to the integrity of their shields, but Forrester remains hopeful they can fight the Martians by studying the blood samples and finding a biological weakness.
ww-53As the Martians advance on Los Angeles, with nothing left to fight them, the city is evacuated and many of the inhabitants are forced to live in the wilderness. Forrester, Sylvia and the Pacific Tech team are split apart by looters and their scientific equipment is stolen or destroyed. Forrester searches for Sylvia in the city while the Martians cause widespread destruction. Based on a story she had told him earlier, he deduces that she would be hiding in a church. After searching through a couple of churches, he finds Sylvia in the third among many praying survivors. Just as the Martians strike the church, their machines suddenly crash. Forrester finds the pilot of one such machine dead, and notes that they were “all praying for a miracle”. It is revealed that while the Martians were impervious to humanity’s weapons, they had no immunity to Earthly bacteria, and began to die from common illness all over the world.war-of-the-worlds-deus-ex-machinaThis film is easily one of the Top Ten of the Sci-Fi genre. Producer George Pal and director Byron Haskin certainly reached a creative plateau back in 1953 that is seldom attained even now in the current age of CGI effects and ear-splitting soundtracks. Simply the best ‘alien invasion’ type film ever made – bar none!