“The Thing from Another World” is a science fiction film and horror directed by Christian Nyby and produced by Howard Hawks. It was released in 1951 and is based on the novella “Who Goes There?” by John W. Campbell Jr.
The film’s plot revolves around a group of scientists and military men stationed at a remote Arctic research base who discover a crashed spaceship and a humanoid creature buried in the ice. As they try to study the creature, it thaws and escapes, revealing itself to be a powerful and deadly alien entity that can mimic and absorb the forms of any living organism it comes into contact with.
The film is regarded as a classic of the sci-fi horror genre and has been praised for its gripping storytelling, effective use of light and shadow, and iconic depiction of alien creature. It was also noted for its commentary on Cold War-era paranoia and fear, as well as its depiction of gender dynamics and the role of women in science.
‘The Thing from Another World’ became a cult favorite in the genre and inspired numerous other works, including John Carpenter’s 1982 film ‘The Thing’, which is widely considered a masterpiece of cinematic horror.
The plot of the film “The Thing from Another World” follows a group of scientists and military personnel who find themselves at an isolated arctic research base. One day, a military plane crashes in the vicinity of the base, prompting the crew members to investigate the cause of the crash. They find that the plane has crashed into a giant extraterrestrial spacecraft buried in ice.
As the base members try to pull the spaceship out of the ice, they come across a frozen body of a humanoid being. In an attempt to recover the body, the scientists accidentally thaw it and the creature escapes into the base. They discover that the creature is capable of regenerating itself and absorbing the biological characteristics of other living beings, making it practically invincible.
The party realizes that the creature must be destroyed at all costs, but they face numerous obstacles as they try to neutralize it. Meanwhile, the creature continues to claim victims in the base, fueling tension and panic among the survivors.
The plot of the film then develops like an intense survival thriller in which the group tries to face and defeat this alien threat, testing their resolve and their scientific and military skills.
The movie “The Thing From Another World” features a variety of characters, including:
Captain Patrick Hendry: The leader of the military group defending the research base. He is played by actor Kenneth Tobey.
Dr. Nikki Nicholson: A brilliant young scientist who works at the research base. She is played by actress Margaret Sheridan.
Doctor Arthur Carrington: The head of the scientists working at the research base. He is played by actor Robert Cornthwaite.
Hendry’s Sergeant: Hendry’s petty officer, played by actor Dewey Martin.
Scotty: The pilot of the military plane that crashes near the research base. He is played by actor Douglas Spencer.
Crew Chief Bob: A technician who works at the research base. He is played by actor Dewey Martin.
Ed Dutton: A member of the military team working at the research base. He is played by actor William Self.
These characters, along with other members of the research base, try to face and defeat the alien creature that is in their base, trying to keep calm and work together despite the differences of opinion between scientists and military.
The film “The Thing From Another World” was produced by RKO Radio Pictures and directed by Christian Nyby, with producer Howard Hawks supervising, although some sources suggest that Hawks actually directed much of the film.
The screenplay for the film was written by Charles Lederer, who adapted the novella “Who Goes There?” by John W. Campbell Jr. Production on the film began in September 1950 and took place primarily at RKO studios in Hollywood. Some scenes set at the Arctic base were filmed on California’s Mount Wilson, where the cast and crew had to contend with adverse weather conditions, including high winds and extremely low temperatures.
The film’s budget was approximately $1.6 million, a relatively large amount for the time. The design of the alien creature was entrusted to special effects artist, James B. Gordon, who created an iconic image of the humanoid creature with an elongated head, bulging eyes and clawed hands.
The soundtrack of the film was composed by Dimitri Tiomkin, who used a combination of orchestral music and electronic sounds to create an atmosphere of tension and suspense.
“The Thing From Another World” was released in theaters in the United States in 1951 and achieved great success with audiences and critics. The film has become a classic of the sci-fi horror genre and has inspired numerous other cinematic and literary works.
Distribution and Reception
“The Thing From Another World” was released in theaters in the United States on April 6, 1951 by RKO Radio Pictures. The film was very commercially successful, earning an estimated $1.95 million at the box office and becoming one of the most watched films of the year. The film was also released in Europe and Asia, where it had a great impact and inspired numerous other works of the horror genre.
Critics received the film positively, appreciating its suspense, special effects and soundtrack. The New York Times called the film “a classic of the genre” and praised Nyby’s direction and Lederer’s screenplay. Time magazine also praised the film, calling it “one of the best sci-fi stories ever brought to the big screen.”
Despite its great success, the film received some criticism for its stereotypical portrayal of women and its open and ambiguous ending. However, these criticisms have not undermined its popularity and cultural impact.
“The Thing from Another World” was later reissued and released in several versions, including a 2003 restored DVD version. The film is considered a classic of the sci-fi horror genre and has influenced numerous other works in the genre, including the famous 1982 remake directed by John Carpenter.
The film “The Thing from Another World” is distinguished by its directing style and atmosphere of tension and suspense. Directed by Christian Nyby (with the supervision of Howard Hawks) is characterized by a tight and fast narrative, with a pressing pace that keeps the viewer on their toes. The use of tight shots, quick cuts, and tight editing give the film a sense of immediate urgency and imminent danger.
Furthermore, the film is notable for its creative use of special effects, especially in the depiction of the alien creature, which was done in a way that was innovative for its time using electronic make-up effects and stop-motion animation techniques.
Dimitri Tiomkin’s score plays an important role in creating the film’s mood, with intense and often dissonant orchestral music, which emphasizes the anxiety and suspense of the story.
Overall, “The Thing From Another World” is characterized by a realistic approach to science fiction, with a strong emphasis on science and technology, and a pessimistic view of the future of humanity. The film represents a classic example of the sci-fi horror genre of the 50s, with a heavy dose of suspense, mystery and action, and a central theme that questions the idea of humanity as a dominant species in the cosmos.
The director of ‘The Thing from Another World’ was Christian Nyby, a well-known film editor who worked on a number of successful films, including Howard Hawks’ ‘Death Runs By River’. Nyby also collaborated with Hawks in directing several hit television series, including ‘The Big Valley’ and ‘The Untouchables.’
Although Nyby is credited as director of “The Thing From Another World”, many film critics and scholars believe that the film was actually directed by Howard Hawks, who supervised the film’s production. According to this theory, Hawks used Nyby’s name as director to avoid contractual problems with his production company, RKO Radio Pictures.
Regardless of who actually directed the film, “The Thing From Another World” stands out for its effective direction, which was able to create an atmosphere of tension and suspense, keeping the viewer on their toes from the beginning to the end of the film. The direction of the actors was particularly accurate, with believable and engaging performances, which helped create a compelling and engaging narrative.