June 7, 2017

The Man from Planet X.

Review #943: The Man from Planet X.

Robert Clarke (John Lawrence), Margaret Field (Enid Elliot), Raymond Bond (Professor Elliot), William Schallert (Dr. Mears), Roy Engel (Tommy the Constable), Charles Davis (Georgie, man at dock), Gilbert Fallman (Dr. Robert Blane), and David Ormont (Inspector Porter) Directed by Edgar G. Ulmer (#797 - People on Sunday and #803 - Detour)

This film was made in just six days, while being shot on sets that had previously been used for the 1948 film version of Joan of Arc; fog machines were used not only for mood but also used in order to cover up parts of the set that weren't exactly there. This is the kind of movie where atmosphere and charm outweigh its cheaply thin nature to make a fairly decent movie. Clarke is a capable lead, carrying the movie with a good ounce of sincerity. Field and Bond are also pretty decent; Schallert is fine in an adversarial role; the film doesn't tell us what he did that apparently should've got him "twenty years", but he captures the ambitious but flawed type pretty well - even if he is also used in order to explain the plot later on. The movie runs pretty decently, lasting just 70 minutes and not seeming to waste any of its time either.

The alien is somewhat unique in that he communicates by modulated musical sounds; you never see his whole body throughout the film (due to the lighting), but his facial effects are pretty decent. One strange thing to note is the fact that there is no credit given to the actor who plays the titular character; it has been rumored to either have been Pat Goldin or dwarf actor Billy Curtis, though nothing can be confirmed (if one wants to go by Wikipedia, anyway). As stated before, the atmosphere of the film is quite nice, with nothing looks ridiculously out of place. The plot is a bit strange, with the main motivation not revealed until the last 10 minutes and the ending lines not exactly making sense. Field's character states that the creature was friendly and wondering what would have happened had Schaller's character had not "frightened him"...except that the creature was trying to get his people to invade the planet in order to survive, while they turned others in the island into zombies. No matter how the alien seemed, the fact remains that him and the planet mutually wanted to survive by invasion. In any case, this isn't a great flick, but it is at the very least a quick little film that manages to be fairly entertaining and overriding its limitations, with a good part of the credit going to the cast but also to Ulmer and his direction.

Overall, I give it 7 out of 10 stars.

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