The 27th Day

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The 27th Day
The 27th Day.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by William Asher
Produced by Helen Ainsworth
Written by John Mantley
Robert M. Fresco (uncredited)
Starring Gene Barry
Valerie French
George Voskovec
Arnold Moss
Music by Mischa Bakaleinikoff
Cinematography Henry Freulich
Edited by Jerome Thoms
Distributed by Columbia Pictures
Release dates
  • 1957 (1957)
Running time 75 minutes
Country United States
Language English

The 27th Day is a 1957 science fiction film released by Columbia Pictures. It was directed by William Asher, produced by Helen Ainsworth, with a screenplay by John Mantley, who also wrote the original novel. The cast includes Gene Barry and Valerie French.


Five people – Englishwoman Evelyn Wingate, American reporter Jonathan Clark, Chinese peasant Su Tan, German physicist Klaus Bechner, and Soviet soldier Ivan Godofsky – are plucked from their everyday lives and transported to an alien spacecraft in Earth orbit. There, they are confronted by a humanoid referring to himself only as "The Alien" (Arnold Moss), who explains that he is the representative from a world orbiting a sun about to go nova. Needing a new world to inhabit within the next 35 days, yet prohibited by their moral code from killing intelligent life, The Alien provides each of the five with sets of three capsules in a clear, round, flat case; each capsule is capable of destroying all human life within a 3,000-mile diameter, with the expectation that humans will use all the capsules, obliterating themselves, leaving the Earth free for the aliens to colonize. The capsules' containers can only be opened by the thought waves of the person to whom they were given; once in the open, the capsules themselves can be used by anyone, but only during the next 27 days, after which they will render themselves inert.

Returned to Earth, Eve throws her capsules into the English Channel and books a flight to Clark's hometown of Los Angeles. Su Tan chooses to commit suicide, causing her capsules to self-destruct. The others go about their daily tasks undisturbed until the next day, when The Alien commandeers all electronic communications and reveals the existence and power of the capsules to the world. Overhearing the broadcast while on a trip to the United States. Bechner is hit by a car while crossing the street and is taken to the hospital with a concussion, while Godofsky is detained by his superiors. Arriving in Los Angeles, Eve is met at the airport by a now-disguised Clark, who takes her to a closed race track where they can hide undetected. Godofsky is interviewed by a Soviet general who, dissatisfied with the private's vague story, orders him subjected to intense interrogation to discover the truth.

In the days that follow, panic over the alien crisis grows. Repeated beatings leave Godofsky in a state of shock, while a recovering Bechner also refuses to reveal the details of The Alien's plan. After two Communist agents, posing as doctors, nearly succeed in assassinating Bechner, and an innocent man who looked like Clark is killed by a mob, Clark and Eve reveal themselves and are taken into custody by U. S. authorities. Through the application of sodium pentothal to an ailing Godofsky, the Soviet leadership discover The Alien's plan and gain access to the capsules. The resulting announcement fuels global anxiety, prompting the other three to cooperate with the U. S. government. Confronted with a Soviet ultimatum to withdraw all military forces back to the United States, the government tests one of Bechner's capsules to verify the threat: a dying volunteer is left on a raft far out in the ocean. After opening a capsule, he reads his exact coordinates out loud and is instantaneously vaporized; the U. S. then begins withdrawing its forces from throughout the world.

On board a U. S. destroyer being used as a deterrent against the launch of the Soviet capsules against America, Bechner, Clark, and Eve discuss their concerns that the Soviets will launch them at the last minute, thus avoiding retaliation. Determined to find another way, Bechner studies the remaining capsules and discovers a mathematical code imprinted on them. As the Soviet general prepares to deploy the capsules, Godofsky rushes him, causing the general to drop the capsules from his balcony onto the ground a couple of stories below. As the general rushes outside to retrieve them, Bechner simultaneously launches both his remaining capsules and the ones from Clark's container, having deciphered the hidden code and discovered that the capsules can be programmed. The capsules blanket the world with a high-pitched sound that kills every "known enemy of human freedom." In the aftermath a united humanity invites the aliens to coexist peacefully with them on the Earth. It turns out to have all been a test of character. The Alien's sun is actual stable, and he in turn invites the people of Earth to join the Galactic Federation, which of course they agree to do.


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