Phantom From Space
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(1953) Ted Cooper, Noreen Nash. No classic, but this is a good, underrated little 'B' sci-fi opus about a group of people that find themselves pitted against an invisible alien in a lonely observatory. Memorable climax. Upgraded 4-95. 16mm.
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The story of an alien from another planet, crash landing off the coast of L.A. and simply trying to escape capture to survive, killing as necessary, is serviceable yet certainly could have been portrayed more compellingly. The acting is typical 'B' melodrama, the effects are fairly good for the era, and the story is just OK. Staging much of it as a police procedural, which was very popular at the time, is an effective budget device. I don't think it's a stretch to suppose that the budget and shooting schedule were insufficient to do much more with the film. That and it's seventy-two minute run time don't allow for additional story details, action sequences, nor engaging characterization. Not that Billy Wilder's little brother, W. Lee Wilder had what it took to make more out of such meager resources, anyway.
Be that as it may, Wilder did a decent job, as he did with several other lesser 'B' classics including, "Killers From Space," "The Man Without a Body," and "Once a Thief," which just might be his masterpiece.
Nonetheless, this modest piece of nostalgia has an effective soundtrack featuring theremin and an erie choir. I usually half-watch it when I'm busy doing something else. Far from great, but I still like it.
I gave this film 4 out of 5 stars because of what I perceived to be sincerity; I think the writers, producer(s), actors were attempting to make a serious sci-fi flick. If I am correct, I think they succeeded. The antiquated scientific applications and understandings, the dated props and misapplied methods of investigation are, for me, the cherry on the sundae!
This is classic science fiction and is a walk down memory lane.
And yes, spoiler alert, the spaceman is shown naked (cleverly done at the end)