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The War of the Worlds (1953)

Gene Barry , Ann Robinson , Byron Haskin  |  G |  DVD
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (706 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Gene Barry, Ann Robinson, Les Tremayne, Robert Cornthwaite, Sandro Giglio
  • Directors: Byron Haskin
  • Writers: Barré Lyndon, H.G. Wells
  • Producers: Cecil B. DeMille, Frank Freeman Jr., George Pal
  • Format: Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, Silent, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono), French (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: G (General Audience)
  • Studio: Paramount Pictures
  • DVD Release Date: April 20, 1999
  • Run Time: 85 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (706 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: 6305350221
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #175,319 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The War of the Worlds" on IMDb

Special Features

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com

After the success of 1950's Destination Moon and 1951's When Worlds Collide, visionary producer George Pal brought the classic H.G. Wells story of a Martian invasion to the big screen, and it instantly became a science fiction classic and winner of the 1953 Academy Award for Best Special Effects. It's a work of frightening imagination, with its manta-ray spaceships armed with cobra-like probes that shoot a white-hot disintegration ray. As formations of alien ships continue to wreak destruction around the globe, the military is helpless to stop this enemy while scientists race to find an effective weapon. Gene Barry and Ann Robinson play the hero and heroine roles that were de rigueur for movies like this in the '50s, and their encounter with one of the Martians is as creepy today as it was in '53. It finally takes an unseen threat--simple Earth bacteria--to conquer the alien invaders, but not before War of the Worlds has provided a dazzling display of impressive special effects. As memorable for its sound effects as for its spectacular visions of destruction, this is a movie for the ages--the kind of spectacular that inspired little kids such as Steven Spielberg (not to mention Roland Emmerich and Dean Devlin, whose Independence Day cribs liberally from the plot) and still packs a punch. --Jeff Shannon

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
169 of 177 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Review for special edition: release 11/05 November 6, 2005
Format:DVD
War of the Worlds has been on DVD before, but it's much better in this special edition, restored and presented, thankfully, in full frame, as it was shot. The print quality is just beautiful, and the movie looks as good as it's ever looked. Special features are also of a high standard: especially welcome are the commentaries by stars Ann Robinson and Gene Barry. Barry seems a little less in command than Robinson, but she graciously compensates, by eloquently describing her experiences, her affection for Barry and producer George Pal, and the film itself, with which she seems wonderfully familiar. Her insight is detailed, sometimes funny, exhaustive, and genuinely revealing--even down to the revelation of a cameo by Woody Woodpecker. Images are so crisp that the wires supporting the ships are sometimes sadly visible, but fans will be so caught up in the frightening story that this won't matter much at all. For those who love this film, I'd say get out there and pick this up: someone got it right, and went to the trouble to present this admired film in an edition that can really be called "special". What a pleasure to see old Technicolor the way it was meant to be seen! A great movie, and a great DVD.
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208 of 237 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars DVD Does Justice to a SF Classic January 28, 2000
Format:DVD
Based on H.G. Wells' classic novel, George Pal's The War Of The Worlds is a classic in its own right. The movie transfers the story from England and the turn of the century to California and the 1950's. Some people see the paranoia of the '50s in the movie but the novel also had a strong theme of fear of things beyond our ken. Pal often included a religious theme in his movies and this film would have been better without it, but it does not detract from the movie enough to keep it from being a classic. The story is that of an invasion of Earth by coldly intelligent Martians. Told in clear, bold strokes with exceptional special effects (for the time) and fine performances by the two leads, Gene Barry and Ann Robinson, The War Of The Worlds should be in every collection of science fiction movies.
The DVD transfer is excellent. The picture is sharp and clear. The color is strong and rich, as Technicolor should be. Like most people, I had only seen this movie on television and it never looked as good as it does on DVD. The picture resolution is so good that you can easily see the wires supporting the Martian war machines. The sound does not measure up to the standard of the video. It is mono and there are cracks and pops on the sound track during the early part of the movie, though I didn't notice them as much in the later scenes (but that may simply be because I was caught up in the excitement of the story). The disk provides only a trailer as supplemental material (I don't consider scene selection to be a special feature, it should be standard on any DVD). The disk is formatted in TV standard but that is not significantly different from the movie's original ratio, since it was not shot in what we now call widescreen.
Although I would have liked to see more supplemental material, this is still a fine DVD of a nearly fifty year old movie that has not received the special treatment of movies like The Wizard Of Oz.
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45 of 50 people found the following review helpful
By M. Hart
Format:DVD
The beginnings of rocketry, fear of science & new technology, the carnage of World War II, the emergence of the Cold War and the fear of nuclear war created an atmosphere in the 1950's perfect for the production of many sci-fi films filled with similar themes. Initiated by the classic film "The Day the Earth Stood Still" in 1951, and including films such as "Forbidden Planet" (1956) and "This Island Earth" (1955), most 1950's sci-fi films focused on war, death, destruction or unbridled technology. Of these, no film better illustrates these themes better than the 1953 film "The War of the Worlds", which was based upon the novel by classic sci-fi author H.G. Wells (1866-1946).
Directed by Byron Haskin (whose behind-the-camera film career includes cinematography and special effects), "The War of the Worlds" begins when a meteor lands in the hills outside of a small California town not far from Los Angeles. Shortly after a scientist from a nearby university, Dr. Clayton Forrester (Gene Barry), comes to investigate the meteor, the meteor opens to reveal several deadly Martian machines whose weapons and defenses are unmatched by anything that man can muster. (In H.G. Well's original novel, Clayton Forrester is a reporter and the meteor lands in England.) In the nearby town, Dr. Forrester meets Sylvia Van Buren (Ann Robinson) and her uncle Matthew Collins (Lewis Martin), a local church pastor. For 1950's special effects technology, the Martian machines and their weapons are done very well. Instead of rising on mechanical legs as envisioned by H.G. Wells, they rise on invisible electromagnetic energy allowing them to float above the ground. Over the course of the film, more meteors land around the earth harboring more seemingly unstoppable Martian machines, and a romance develops between Dr.
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221 of 272 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very Shabby DVD of the 1953 Sci-Fi Classic July 10, 2003
Format:DVD
If you have a VHS version with which you are satisfied, hang on to it: the DVD release of 1953's WAR OF THE WORLDS is a slipshod and very shabby affair.
Loosely based on the classic H.G. Wells novel, WAR OF THE WORLDS moves the original story from late 19th Century England to 1950s California, where a group of scientists confront an invasion from Mars. Arriving in meteor-like projectiles and sweeping across the landscape in strange, birdlike machines armed with death-rays, the Martians prove invincible to human attack. How can mankind survive?
The great attraction of the film is its special effects, which is early 1950s state-of-the-art in its combination of rear-screen projections, miniatures, and truly imaginative design. But the film also has an additional interest, for it is very much of its time, presenting us with some of the most relentlessly stereotypical characters to ever reach the screen. This is particularly true in terms of gender roles, for seldom has any film before or after created such a hysteria-prone and clinging leading lady as Sylvia Van Buren, played here by the hapless Ann Robinson. Not only would the special effects and story prove tremendously influential, so too would the film's gender stereotyping. While the slightly earlier THE THING offered a strong female lead, THE WAR OF THE WORLDS would generally set the tone for every sci-fi leading lady well into the 1960s.
But all of this is analytical criticism. We may hoot a bit at the incredibly broad performances, the frequently silly dialogue, and the truly ludicrous gender roles, but WAR OF THE WORLDS is a tremendous amount of fun to watch. It makes you want to break out a bag of popcorn and curl up with friends and family in true Saturday matinee fashion.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Maybe Germs have a use after all
I remember seeing this in the theater as a young child and I enjoyed it immensely. The 1950's was a time where many B-movie Sci Fi pictures were produced and unfortunately many... Read more
Published 3 days ago by Beowolf Jones
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Favorite as a child. Bought one for my brother. I had this. No problems I see.
Published 4 days ago by dls74447
4.0 out of 5 stars The idea of having a scientist fall in love with a parson's daughter...
This movie, which I first saw in the theater, in the late 50's scared my pants off. Whenever I watch it again I have to chuckle at the fact that these super-intelligent Martians... Read more
Published 6 days ago by philo
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Great movie.
Published 6 days ago by Alan
4.0 out of 5 stars Still enjoyable after all these years
OK, this version is dated and the special effects which were great back in the early fifties (when I first saw it) are kinda cheesy by today's standards. Read more
Published 7 days ago by Terry Stevens
5.0 out of 5 stars This is a great sci-fi movie
This is a great sci-fi movie. It should be seen with the newer Tom Cruise version that also is great. Make sure you watch the "How they were made" extras.
Published 8 days ago by Virgil Roush
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
I like of Sci-fi movies and this is one of the better movies of that time.
Published 10 days ago by Terry L. Sager
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
a timeless classic.
Published 12 days ago by glenn goetz
5.0 out of 5 stars A Must See Sci-Fi Classic
Before showing this to my daughter, I told her that this was one of my favorite movies as a kid. I fondly recall sitting in front of my TV, watching this movie play out on our... Read more
Published 13 days ago by David Girod
3.0 out of 5 stars I like this one for the special effects
George Pal produced many B type movies, I like this one for the special effects. Though they are rudimentary and crude they are still the best of their time. Read more
Published 13 days ago by Thomas
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sci-fi fans! need help with war of the worlds
I saw a movie when I was younger that depicted making the radio show. It actually stared Orson Welles if my memory serves me correctly. I have never seen that movie again and want to. If I knew the name I could do a better search. If you find it I would sure like to know the name of it.
Thanks
Dan
Oct 25, 2013 by Amazon Customer |  See all 3 posts
There is another version of WAR OF THE WORLDS set in the correct period.
I wish it could have had better effects. I always wanted a War of the Worlds true to Well's time period. Maybe someday.
Jan 29, 2012 by Jerome Bush |  See all 2 posts
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