This Island Earth – USA, 1955

This Island Earth is a 1954 [released 1955] American science fiction feature film directed by Joseph M. Newman and Jack Arnold [uncredited] from a screenplay written by Franklin Coen and George Callahan [as Edward G. O’Callaghan], based on the eponymous 1952 novel by Raymond F. Jones, which was originally published in the magazine Thrilling Wonder Stories.

The Universal-International William Alland production stars Jeff Morrow, Faith Domergue, Rex Reason and Lance Fuller.

New release:

This Island Earth was released on Blu-ray by Scream Factory on July 9, 2019, using a new 4K scan of the inter-positive, plus the original Perspecta Stereophonic Sound has been restored. The new restoration is presented with two aspect ratio options: 1.85:1 and 1.37:1. Special Features:

  • Audio commentary with visual effects artist Robert Skotak (new)
  • Audio interview with film historian David Schecter on the music of This Island Earth (new)
  • Interview with Starcrash filmmaker Luigi Cozzi (new)
  • Facts about Perspecta Stereophonic Sound by 3-D Film Archive’s Bob Furmanek (new)
  • This Island Earth: Two and A Half Years in the Making – Extended 2013 documentary on the making of the film
  • War of the Planets – 1958 Castle Films release for the home market including both the 50-foot silent Headline edition and the 200-foot sound Complete edition
  • Trailers from Hell – This Island Earth with commentary by Joe Dante
  • Theatrical Trailer
  • Still galleries – poster and lobby cards, publicity stills and behind-the-scenes photos

Plot:

Scientist Cal Meacham (Rex Reason) solves a mysterious puzzle that allows him access to a highly secretive program — led by the mysterious Exeter (Jeff Morrow) — that has assembled the world’s greatest scientific minds in an attempt to quickly learn how to generate and store nuclear power.

However, with the help of fellow scientists Ruth Adams (Faith Domergue) and Steve Carlson (Russell Johnson), Meacham soon discovers that his host is not what he claims to be…

Reviews:

” …one of those rare 1950s speculative films that holds up as well today as it did when first released, despite the comparative quaintness of the special effects and high-tech paraphernalia.” All Movie

” …a full-blooded space opera complete with interplanetary warfare and bug-eyed monsters … the film’s space operatics are given a dreamlike quality and a moral dimension that makes the dramatic situation far more interesting.” Phil Hardy (editor),The Aurum Film Encyclopedia: Science Fiction

“The exposition-heavy front half successfully builds intrigue that’s paid off by the time the more exciting elements are introduced. Unlike many of its 1950s sci-fi brethren, this is a color picture; Technicolor, to be exact. Cinematographer Clifford Stine (It Came from Outer Space) utilizes the vibrant palette to bathe the screen in primary shades during several key sequences.” Alex DiVincenzo, Broke Horror Fan

” …one of the most fascinating—and frightening — science-fiction movies to come at us yet from outer space … To the camera and effects men must go the major laurels for making this wonders visible and audible — in awesome Technicolor and a sound track that is as ear-wracking as it is eerie.” Philip K. Scheuer, Los Angeles Times

“This is a B-movie of the first order, with the cast playing their roles as straight as can be, and with as much gravitas as they can manage, and damn if it isn’t a lot of fun!” The Mind Reels

“Today, This Island Earth disappoints somewhat – many people who come to it having heard of its classic reputation do not take the time to persevere through the slow lead-up of the story. The film takes nearly two-thirds of the running time before it gets us to the space scenes. The dramatics in these early scenes are pedestrian and hampered by a wooden leading man and woman.” Richard Scheib, Moria

” …most of the commotion is pretty wonderful, once the Universal art wizards take over, as the disk streaks toward its goal in a vast, brilliantly spangled, interplanetary void. One setting alone, a panoramic vista of the doomed planet “Metaluna,” should leave anyone bug-eyed.” Howard Thompson, The New York Times, June 11, 1955

“Special effects of the most realistic type rival the story and characterizations in capturing the interest in this exciting science-fiction chiller, one of the most imaginative, fantastic and cleverly-conceived entries to date in the outer-space film field.” Variety

Cast and characters:

  • Jeff Morrow … Exeter
  • Faith Domergue … Dr. Ruth Adams
  • Rex Reason … Dr. Cal Meacham
  • Lance Fuller … Brack
  • Russell Johnson … Dr. Steve Carlson
  • Douglas Spencer … The Monitor
  • Robert Nichols … Joe Wilson
  • Karl Ludwig Lindt … Dr. Adolph Engelborg (as Karl L. Lindt)
  • Jack Byron … Photographer (uncredited)
  • Spencer Chan … Dr. Hu Ling Tang (uncredited)
  • Richard Deacon … Pilot (uncredited)
  • Coleman Francis … Express Delivery man (uncredited)
  • Marc Hamilton … Metaluna Inhabitant (uncredited)
  • Edward Hearn … Reporter (uncredited)
  • Edward Ingram … Photographer (uncredited)
  • Charlotte Lander … Metaluna Woman at Decompression Console (uncredited)
  • Orangey … Neutron–Cat (uncredited)
  • Regis Parton … Mutant (uncredited)
  • Manuel París … Dinner Guest (uncredited)
  • Olan Soule … First Reporter (uncredited)
  • Les Spears … Reporter (uncredited)
  • Lizalotta Valesca … Dr. Marie Pitchner (uncredited)
  • Robert B. Williams … Webb (uncredited)

Technical details:

  • 86 minutes
  • Technicolor
  • Aspect ratio: 1.37: 1
  • Mono (Western Electric Recording)

Production:

Principal photography for This Island Earth took place from January 30 to March 22, 1954.

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