THE MAN FROM PLANET X (1951) Reviews and overview

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The Man from Planet X is a 1951 science fiction horror film directed by Edgar G. Ulmer (Daughter of Doctor Jekyll; Bluebeard; The Black Cat) from a screenplay co-written by producers Aubrey Wisberg and Jack Pollexfen for their Mid Century Films. It was released via United Artists and took $1.2 million against an estimated budget of $51,000.

The film went into production on December 13, 1950 at Hal Roach Studios in Culver City, California and wrapped principal photography six days later. To save money, it was shot on sets for the 1948 film Joan of Arc, using imitation fog to change moods and locations.

On July 11, 2017, Scream Factory released The Man from Planet X on Blu-ray.

Buy: Amazon.com

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Main cast:

Robert Clarke (Frankenstein IslandThe Hideous Sun Demon; The Astounding She-Monster), Margaret Field (Captive Women; The Twilight Zone), Raymond Bond, William Schallert (Bag of Bones; What’s New, Scooby-Doo?; Gremlins), Roy Engel, David Ormont, Gilbert Fallman, Tom Daly, June Jeffery.

Opening plot:

A spaceship from a previously unknown planet lands in the Scottish moors, bringing an alien creature to earth near the observatory of Professor Elliot (Raymond Bond), just days before the planet will pass closest to the earth.

When the professor and his friend, American reporter John Lawrence (Robert Clarke), discover the creature, they help it when it is in distress and try to communicate with it, but fail. They leave, and the alien follows them home.

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A colleague of the professor, the unscrupulous and ambitious scientist Doctor Mears (William Schallert), discovers how to communicate with the creature and tries to get from it by force the formula for the metal the spaceship is made of. He shuts off the alien’s breathing apparatus and leaves it for dead, telling the professor that communication was hopeless…

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Reviews:

” …an unexpectedly good film. For one thing, this appears to be the very first of the “Real Estate Agents from a Dying Planet” movies, and I always think a bit of extra respect is due to any movie that establishes its own subgenre. Secondly, there’s an unusual amount of intelligence on display here for a film on which absolutely no money was spent whatsoever.” 1000 Misspent Hours and Counting

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“Though cheaply made, The Man from Planet X still manages to look very stylized. You get a sense of the dampness of the location, even though the film was shot entirely in the dry heat of Culver City, CA. All of the characters are very likable. Yes, even in the end, a sense of empathy for the primary antagonist hits you right in the chest.” Becky Feldman, ScienceFiction.com

The Man From Planet X is grand fun. It offers the usual trappings, which even in 1951 were probably a bit clichéd —a trance-inducing ray gun, a mysterious new planet, a rocket-shaped spacecraft reminiscent of Flash Gordon, weird new metal alloys, a backstabbing side-kick, foggy moor sets, and a bubble-headed alien.  Is this film a classic?  I say yes!” Monster Minions

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Buy: Amazon.com | Amazon.co.uk

Cast and characters:

  • Robert Clarke as John Lawrence
  • Margaret Field as Enid Elliot
  • Raymond Bond as Professor Elliot
  • William Schallert as Doctor Mears
  • Roy Engel as Tommy the Constable
  • Charles Davis as Georgie, man at dock
  • Gilbert Fallman as Doctor Robert Blane
  • David Ormont as Inspector Porter
  • June Jeffery as Wife of missing man
  • Franklyn Farnum as Sgt. Ferris, Porter’s assistant (uncredited)

Choice dialogue:

John Lawrence: “Drive on, McDuff!”

John Lawrence: “If the men left don’t buckle down to the job this is going to be a village of zombies.”

Influence:

  • The alien can only communicate using modulated musical sounds, a concept used three decades later in Close Encounters of the Third Kind.
  • The alien appears alongside other film monsters in the 2003 film Looney Tunes: Back in Action, in the scene that occurs at Area 52.

New and future releases