The Man From Planet X
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From the farthest reaches of space it came … is it friend or foe?
After a ship from a distant world lands on the moors of Scotland, intrepid reporter John Lawrence (Robert Clarke, The Hideous Sun Demon) and the brilliant Professor Elliot (Raymond Bond) set out to investigate. Their journey brings them face to face with the ships pilot: an alien from a dying planet that pleads for their aid. But Elliots unscrupulous colleague Dr. Mears (William Schallert, The Patty Duke Show) has other plans entirely for the interplanetary visitor: plans that could decide the fate of two worlds.
Also starring David Ormont and Margaret Field, The Man From Planet X is pure 50s drive-in goodness, straight from B-movie master Edgar G. Ulmer (The Black Cat, Detour).
• NEW High-Definition transfer taken from a fine grain-print
• Commentary by Author Tom Weaver and Film Historian Dr. Robert J. Kiss
• Theatrical Trailer
• Image Gallery
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Sadly I shall have to keep the MGM DVD which works just fine. Scream Factory B-movies are already more expensive than their chief competitor. Kino Lorber. So Scream Factory should really get their act together and ship Blu-rays that work..
This is one of my favorite 1950's science fiction movies so I am partial. I wanted to give it 5 stars for that reason but ultimately I settled on 4 because it is not a perfect release.
If you like old atmospheric movies than you might enjoy this one even if it is a very low budget movie.
BLU-RAY and EXTRA'S: The picture itself is not bad but it is not perfect. There are some imperfections throughout. But it is still the best available picture and it is still a nice print. There are not that many extra's. I think a release of this type should always contain a commentary track or some sort of 'Making of' documentary or both. Especially when you are going to charge full price for the release. You get a photo gallery and a trailer as extra's.
PLOT: Professor Elliot (Raymond Bond) has discovered a planet heading toward earth that he calls Planet X. It is not expected to hit earth but it is expected to come close and cause possible atmospheric and tidal damage to earth. He is staying in an old Scottish keep in a small island called Bury. Planet X's closest approach to earth is going to be at Bury. Professor Elliot is staying there with his daughter Enid (Margaret Field, Sally Field's Mom.) Elliot contacts an American reporter and friend, John Lawrence(Robert Clarke.) Lawrence takes the exclusive as his assignment. When he gets to town he is met by Enid, who immediately starts flirting with him. She takes him to the keep where the Elliot's insist on him staying. He finds out that a scientist named Dr. Mears(William Schallert) is also staying there. We learn that Lawrence dislikes Mears and that Mears has been in prison but we don't don't know why.
While out on the moors, Lawrence discovers a metallic object that looks like a small rocket ship. He brings it back to the professor where he and the doctor figure out that the object is of extraterrestrial origin and is extremely strong. Dollar signs light up in Dr. Mears eyes.
Later Enid's car break down on her way home. She gets out and walks when she see's a spaceship out on the moors. She goes to investigate and an alien face peers out a porthole at her. She runs home and tells everybody. Professor Elliott and Enid head out to investigate. When they get there, the alien shines a light ray in the face of the Professor. It hypnotizes him. Enid orders him home and the effect wears off after a few hours.
The next day the Professor and Lawrence head back to the ship. They approach the alien but hold up there arms to show they intend no harm. The alien seems to struggle with his breathing and falls to the ground grasping at a dial. Lawrence turn it and revives him. They leave him be and head for the keep. Shortly thereafter they realize the alien has followed them. The alien is now friendly and they attempt to communicate with him using geometry. Dr. Mears has other plans. While alone with the alien, he turns the dial on the space suit and attempts to enslave the alien to do his bidding. Shortly thereafter the alien escapes and takes Enid with him. The alien begins hypnotizing townspeople. He has also blocked all communications off the island. They manage to get a message to a passing ship using light signals. They request Scotland Yard come to their rescue. Two agents arrive and they explain the situation. The alien has moved the ship and has been building up fortification using his slave labor.
Scotland Yard calls in the army. Planet X is approaching and Enid and some townspeople are held captive. From here we reach our conclusion.
PRODUCTION: This movie was released in 1951 by an independent producer. Therefore it was right at the beginning of the 50's sci-fi craze.
The budget was approximately $50,000 (Robert Clarke says $41,000) a miniscule budget even for a low budget movie, and shot in 6 days.
This movie was directed by Edgar Ulmer. Ulmer has somewhat of a cult following. He was on the rise in Hollywood when he got caught sleeping with the wrong person. As a result he was basically black listed and spent most of his career making low budget movies. But he directed quite a few excellent low budget movies, some of which have become cult favorites.
'The Man From Planet X' gets credit as the first alien invasion movie to hit the theaters. It was filmed at about the same time as "The Thing from Another World' and 'The Day the Earth Stood Still' but it was released first.
Robert Clarke admitted in an interview that they rushed to get the movie done before 'The Thing' because of all the publicity 'The Thing' was getting. They tried and succeeded in capitalizing on the publicity and people being confused.
COMMENTS: I tend to love atmospheric movies and this movie has tremendous atmosphere. Although they give a weak reason for using the location of a small town in Scotland, it works. Ulmer used the sets from 'Joan of Arc' starring Ingrid Bergman. There are not a lot of sets but good use was made from what they had. The foggy moors, the old Scottish Keep and village as well as the painted backdrops all add to a very creepy atmosphere to the movie.
As much as I like this movie I have to point out a plot point that seems to have gone awry or was rewritten part of the way through. Dr. Mears, attacks the 'Man' and tries to enslave him. Up to this point, the space man seemed to be quite friendly. After this event he turns hostile. Enid blames him the hostility at the end of the movie but the space man and his fellow beings were plotting to take over the earth from the beginning. They were already on their way to Earth with intentions of living there. The space man was probably there scouting. Therefore you can say that Dr. Mears had nothing to do with the hostility and in fact exposed the space man even if not by design. I suppose you can say that the space men were going to try to cooperate with earth. There didn't seem to be that many of them. But this was never made clear.
We never learn why Lawrence dislikes Dr. Mears nor do we find out why he was in prison. The movie implies that he did some bad things but never gives any details so we don't know how 'evil' he is. I thought that he was going to be more of a love interest rival for Enid's affections but it doesn't turn out to be the case.
I wasn't sure why the alien was building up fortifications. Why not just leave the planet? At first I thought he might have crash landed but that is not the case because he moves the ship to a different location later on. Why not move it to a safer location? I guess I'm looking for too much logic in a low budget, very short schedule movie!
RECOMMENDATIONS: I give the movie an 8/10 for it's time period and budget. The extra's only get a 3/10. As far as the print goes, let's call it 6 or 7 out of 10. I think that a release of this type should be a $9.99 release or 2 movies for $19.99. You don't get enough for full price.
If you are a fan of 1950's sci-fi and you want the best picture you are going to buy this anyway. But keep in mind it's not a tremendous upgrade from the MGM Midnite Movies release.
Overall....for me it's a must buy because it is a favorite of mine from the time period.
Most recent customer reviews
The scene in the car up to the Brock looks a lot better on blu-ray.
On dvd it very grainy and distorted.
Sally fields mom ??Read more