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The 1950s Science Fiction Podcast S2 E1

Movie Review: This Island Earth

By Edward GermanPublished 3 years ago 8 min read
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movie poster

Hello everyone, I want to welcome you back to my podcast, it has been a long while since the last show, but now I am trying to get back into the swing of things. I have been busy with other projects and taking time to examine the progress of the show. In the interim, I have read two novels, one science fiction the other technothriller. For the first time, I got invited to another podcast. I did a mini-review of today's show topic as a guest contributor for the StarPodLog podcast. StarPodLog is all about the publication of fan magazine Starlog first published in the mid-70s and went out of print during the early 2000s. The podcast host, Nayr and Kayvura also discuss the Star Trek franchise and Gene Roddenberry in a similar podcast. You can follow them on StarPodLog on Twitter and StarPodLog and StarPodTrek Podcast - YouTube. I also want to mention science fiction author Erasmo Acosta, who has written a great sci-fi novel about the future. I did a book review of his book K3+ for my vocal media page, be sure to check it out. Now onto the show.

A Beam of Light

This Island Earth premiered in New York City on June 10, 1955, produced by Univeral Studios as their first science fiction movie shot in color. The film's producer was Willian Alland; the director was Joesph Newman with Jack Arnold as an uncredited assistant. The principal cast members were Rex Reason, playing Cal Meacham, Faith Demorque, playing Dr. Ruth Adams, and Jeff Morrow, playing Exeter. The movie runtime is 86 minutes. This Island Earth, based on a novelization of the same name, written by Raymond F. Jones published in 1953, appeared as three short stories in Thrilling Wonder Stories. Universal-International bought the rights, and production soon followed.

The movie begins with a cross-country flight via a jet fighter piloted by Cal Meacham. Meacham is a scientist who is returning from a conference held in Washington DC. Just before landing, his aircraft becomes frozen by a green beam of light. This beam of light shuts down the entire plane. However, the light beam lands the jet fighter safely on the ground. When his lab assistant states he had seen what happened, they both agree to stay silent. Both men believe the incident warrants further investigation and don't want to be ridiculed by anyone.

The Interocitor.

One day while Meacham and his assistant are working in the lab, they receive a mysterious package. After opening it, the contents seem to be very strange. They are some type of electronic components that neither of them has seen before. With the parts are instructions on how to put them together, and both men do just that. When the scientists complete a section, they order more material and continue the assembly. The two scientists finish the last portion of the device. Then, somehow it switches itself on and projects an image of a man. The person introduces himself as Exeter and congratulates both of them for the construction of the interocitor. Exeter explains that the completion of the interocitor was a recruiting test for a project. An opportunity for a scientist of his caliber, should he decided to accept Exter's proposal. Meacham is intrigued by the offer; however, his assistant is uncertain about the offer. Meachem agrees to the proposal, and Exeter tells him to be at the airfield tomorrow evening. At that point, the interocitor self-destructs in a small fire.

The Trip.

The following evening, Meacham and his assistant go out to a local airfield. When they arrive, they find a pilotless airplane waiting for them. The passenger door opens, and Meacham steps inside when told to do so. He discovers the plane to be empty with only one seat in the passenger section. He sits down, and the door closes shut amid the protest of his lab assistant, who stays behind. The assistant is already very fearful of Exeter's motives and is suspicious.

The plane takes off with only Meacham aboard. It appears the aircraft is remote-controlled or has an intelligence guiding it. The duration of the flight is not very long, and Meacham finds himself in a rural area. When he exits the plane, Dr. Ruth Adams, a scientist he once knew, welcomes him to the estate. She explains that he is now in the mountains of Georgia, and she will introduce everyone to him. The estate is an antebellum southern plantation that Exeter uses for his project.

The Estate.

Dr. Adams transports Cal to the Estate, and upon arrival, meets Exeter in person. Exeter explains the purpose of his project to Meacham; Exeter states to Meacham that the mission of his undertaking is to end war itself, and scientists of his caliber are needed. Cal accepts Exeter's explanation for the moment but is concerned about the group of scientists working at the Estate. He learns that all of the scientists specialize in Nuclear Physics. He was also uneased by Exeter's assistant Brack, played by Lance Fuller, who acts very sinister. Meacham befriends one of the scientists working on the project, Steve Carlton, played by Russel Johson. He is best known as the professor of the TV series Gilligan's Island.

Carlton and Ruth Adams are also suspicious of Exeter's motives.

The True Purpose of the Project

After spending some time at the Estate, Meacham, Dr. Addams, and Carlton start comparing notes. Meacham becomes doubtful of any peaceful intentions Exeter has given him. The trio is equally curious about the odd appearance of Exeter and his staff. They all seem to have elongated foreheads, which is unusual for any human being. Meacham questions the nature of the project and asks the group about the activity going on in nearby caves. All three scientists decided to leave, and Carlton gets killed in the escape attempt. Ruth and Cal press on and take off in a small plane parked in a nearby field.

In the meantime, Exeter is discussing the project's progress with the supreme leader of his planet. As it turns out, Exeter and his entourage are aliens from another planet, thereby explaining the advanced technology and their appearance. The supreme leader orders Exeter and Brack to destroy the Estate, bring the scientists to their home planet, and subject them to mind control. Exeter objects to using mind control on the humans because he feels they would work better for their cause if their minds were free. Brack goes about the destruction plan while Exeter pleads his case to the supreme leader.

Exeter and Brack.

Ruth and Cal are airborne in the small plane when the same green light appears again, and this time it drags the aircraft into an alien spaceship. The airplane lands inside a large hanger aboard the alien ship, and both of them exit the plane. Shortly they met up with Exeter, and he explains the true purpose of the project. Exeter tells both Ruth and Cal that he is from another world outside Earth's solar system and his homeworld is dying. His Planet, Metaluna, is at war with another world, and the shield around his homeworld is weakening. Therefore the need for Nuclear scientists has become paramount to Metaluna's survival. Meacham and Adams are held captive about the ship and find themselves on the way to Metaluna.

Metaluna.

Exeter takes Ruth and Cal to the main deck and prepares them for a long flight to Metaluna. They are required to say inside a conditioning chamber so their system can adjust to the heaver atmosphere of Metaluna. Once out, they witness an attack by the Zygons while in transit. Exeter explains the Zygons have rejected all attempts of making peace with Metaluna; the war itself has been endless. Later, the ship arrives at Metaluna, and we see a bleak world consumed by constant warfare from the Zygons. Meacham and Dr. Adams go before the Monitor, who is the supreme leader of the planet. The Monitor has absolute power; he gives the scientist a choice of either co-operate or face lobotomy. Exeter objects to the use of force and argues with the Monitor. Then there is an attack by the Zygons, which causes some disruptions, thus allowing the group to escape.

Metaluna

Escaping the Planet.

When some parts of the ceiling fall away in the Monitor's room, the trio makes a quick exit, and Exeter takes them back to the Metaluna spaceship. All three get onto the spacecraft, but they are not out of danger yet. A mutant has stowed away in the ship and attacks Ruth but, she manages to escape unharmed. The mutant is a large-eyed creature with a head that looks like an exposed brain and claws for hands. It is the only time you see a bug-eyed monster in the entire movie. The group manages to make it in time before the last Zygon attack destroys Metaluna. After witnessing the destruction, it appears that Exeter may be the last of his kind. The ship heads back to Earth, and Ruth and Cal leave the Metaluna ship by the way they came. Exeter says inside the spaceship and crashes it into the ocean.

My thoughts.

I have seen this movie at least two or three times over the years. It is a great story and is a more thinking person's movie than an action thriller. The motion picture is almost devoid of any bug-eyed monsters except for the mutant. Most sci-fi movies of the period featured plenty of monsters, aliens, or mutated creatures. They were cheap and easy to produce on low budgets; however, This Island Earth was an exception. This movie had a much larger budget, was shot in color, and had an intelligent script. It was like the Star Wars of its day; the producers make good use of some special effects that would influence future filmmakers. They used miniature models, elaborate sets, and color photography in unique ways. The photographers used deep rich color for the light beam effects in some scenes. Also, the same process is used again in different parts of the movie. This Island Earth is defiantly on the A-list of science fiction movies of the '50s. It is a must-see for any 50s sci-fi fan. It rates as great as Destination Moon and Forbidden Planet.

If you are interested in watching this movie, you can find it on YouTube. More recently, a contributor for Galactic Journey wrote a great review of it. Follow Galactic Journey on Twitter @journeygalactic I will also have the movie trailer on my vocal media page, so don't forget to take a look at it. All you need to do is click on the website logo on your podcast platform and, the profile will come up.

Once again, thanks for taking the time to listen to my podcast. I hope you have enjoyed it.

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About the Creator

Edward German

A long-time sci-fi fan who loves the internet. I am also writing on subjects other than sci-fi.

you can follow me on "X" @EdwardGerman3 Listen to my podcast The 1950s Science Fiction Podcast on Spotify for Podcasters.

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