The Thing from Another World
is the first movie based on John W. Campbell
's novella Who Goes There?note
, directed in 1951 by Christan Nyby (and produced by Howard Hawks
The setting is one that will become familiar to viewers of horror films; A small group of people are cut off from the rest of humanity - in this case because they are at the North Pole and the weather is horrible, even interfering with radio communications.
Our hero, Captain Pat Hendry (Kenneth Tobey), and his aircrew along with a stray reporter, fly to the Arctic outpost manned by a scientific expedition under Dr. Carrington (Robert Cornthwaite) to investigate an apparent air crash. It proves to be a Flying Saucer
that is accidentally destroyed when the crew attempt to recover it. However they do discover the body of the presumed pilot frozen in the ice. Needless to say he/it (played by a young James Arness
) is not dead, and once defrosted wreaks havoc until stopped by 'an arc of electricity'.
While Hawks' actual role in the film's production has long been debated, The Thing
exhibits his trademarked overlapping dialogue and assertive female characters who neither scream, faint or become hysterical at any point in the proceedings. All screaming, fainting and hysteria is supplied by the male cast - and with good reason. The script is a quick patter of wisecracks and one-liners with minimal exposition that keep the plot moving at breakneck speeds. For what it's worth, the cast members have offered conflicting reports, with some saying he effectively directed nearly all of it and others claiming he only supervised the production. Of course, it could just be that Nyby was so influenced by Hawks he merely imitated his style to the hilt.
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