Earth vs. the Flying Saucers

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Earth vs. the Flying Saucers
Earth vs the Flying Saucers DVD.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Fred F. Sears
Produced by Charles H. Schneer
Sam Katzman
Written by Donald E. Keyhoe (book)
Curt Siodmak
George Worthing Yates
Bernard Gordon
Starring Hugh Marlowe
Joan Taylor
Music by Mischa Bakaleinikoff
Cinematography Fred Jackman Jr.
Edited by Danny B. Landres
Production
  company
Clover Productions
Distributed by Columbia Pictures
Release date(s) July 1, 1956
Running time 83 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Box office $1,250,000 (US rentals)[1]

Earth vs. the Flying Saucers is a 1956 American science fiction film, directed by Fred F. Sears and released by Columbia Pictures. The film is also known as Invasion of the Flying Saucers.[2] It was suggested by the best selling, non-fiction book Flying Saucers from Outer Space by Maj. Donald Keyhoe.[3] The flying saucer effects were created by Ray Harryhausen.

Plot[edit]

Scientist Russell Marvin (Hugh Marlowe) and his new bride Carol (Joan Taylor) are driving to work when a flying saucer appears overhead. Without proof of the encounter other than a tape recording of the ship's sound, Dr. Marvin is hesitant to notify his bosses. He is in charge of Project Skyhook, an American space program that has already launched 10 research satellites into orbit. General Hanley (Morris Ankrum), Carol's father, informs Marvin that many of the satellites have crashed. Marvin admits that he has lost contact with all of them and privately suspects alien involvement. The Marvins themselves witness the eleventh falling from the sky.

When a saucer lands at the lab the next day, soldiers fire upon it, killing one alien while others and the ship itself are protected by a force field. The aliens kill everyone but the Marvins, and the general is taken away in the saucer. Russell records and plays a broadcast from the aliens that they wanted to meet with Dr. Marvin. Impatient to conduct the meeting, Marvin contacts the aliens and steals away to meet them, followed by Carol and Major Huglin. They and a motorcycle cop are taken aboard a spaceship, where they learn that the aliens have extracted knowledge from General Hanley's brain, and now have him under their control. They also claim to be the last of their species, and to have destroyed the satellites in fear of weapons. As proof of their power, the aliens give Marvin the coordinates of a destroyer that fired on them, and which they destroyed; but the Marvins are released with the message that the aliens want to meet the world's leaders in 56 days in Washington, D.C., to negotiate an occupation.

Dr. Marvin's observations find that the aliens' suits are made of solidified electricity, and grant the aliens advanced auditory perception. From other observations, Marvin develops a weapon against the flying saucers, which he tests against one. As they leave, the aliens jettison Hanley and the police officer, who fall to their deaths. Groups of alien ships then attack Washington, Paris, London, and Moscow; but are destroyed by Dr. Marvin's weapon. The defenders also discover that the aliens are vulnerable to small arms fire once they leave the immediate force fields of their saucers. Later Marvin and Carol rejoice at the beach.

Cast[edit]

Visual effects[edit]

Special effects expert Ray Harryhausen animated the film's flying saucers using stop-motion animation. Harryhausen also animated the falling masonry when saucers crash into various government buildings and monuments,[4] in order to make the action appear realistic. Some figure animation was used to show the aliens emerging from the saucers. A considerable amount of stock footage was also used,[5] notably scenes during the invasion that showed batteries of U. S. 90 mm M3 guns and an early missile launch. Stock footage of the destruction of the warship HMS Barham during World War II was used for the U. S. Navy destroyer that is sunk by a flying saucer. Satellite launch depictions made use of stock film images from a Viking rocket launch and a failure of a German V-2 rocket.

The voice of the aliens was produced from a recording of Paul Frees reading their lines and then hand-jiggling the speed control of an analog reel-to-reel tape recorder, so that it continually wavered from a slow bass voice to one that is high and fast.[citation needed]

During a question-and-answer period at a tribute to Ray Harryhausen and a screening of Jason and the Argonauts held in Sydney, Australia, Harryhausen said he sought advice from noted 1950s UFO "contactee" George Adamski on the depiction of the flying saucers used in the film; he also noted that Adamski appeared to have grown increasingly paranoid by that time. The film's iconic flying saucer design (a static central cabin with an outer rotating ring with slotted vanes) matches descriptions given to Maj. Donald Keyhoe of flying disc sightings in his best-selling flying saucer book.[6]

Notes[edit]

External links[edit]