20 Million Miles to Earth

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20 Million Miles to Earth.
20 Million Miles to Earth.jpg
50th Anniversary DVD cover
Directed by Nathan H. Juran
Produced by Charles H. Schneer
Written by Charlotte Knight
Ray Harryhausen[1]
Screenplay by Bob Williams
Christopher Knopf
Starring William Hopper
Joan Taylor
Frank Puglia
Narrated by William Woodson
Music by Mischa Bakaleinikoff
Cinematography Irving Lippman
Carlo Ventimiglia
Edited by Edwin Bryant
Morningside Productions
Distributed by Columbia Pictures
Release date
  • June 1957 (1957-06)
Running time
82 minutes
Country United States
Language English

20 Million Miles to Earth is a 1957 American science-fiction giant monster film, directed by Nathan H. Juran, and produced by Charles H. Schneer's Morningside Productions for Columbia Pictures. Shot in black-and-white, the film stars William Hopper, Joan Taylor, and Frank Puglia. The screenplay was written by Bob Williams and Christopher Knopf from an original treatment by Charlotte Knight. As with several other Schneer-Columbia collaborations, the film was developed to showcase the stop-motion animation of Ray Harryhausen.


Off the coast of Sperlonga, Italy, two fishermen, Mondello and Verrico, watch as a spaceship crashes into the sea. They row out to the site and pull two spaceman from the nose-down craft before it completely sinks into the sea.

Meanwhile, in Washington, D.C., Major General A.D. McIntosh discovers that the missing spaceship, piloted by Colonel Bob Calder, has been located off the coast of Italy. As McIntosh flies to the site, Pepe, a little boy, finds a metal capsule on the beach. Opening it, he finds a jelly-like mass inside, so he offers it to Dr. Leonardo, a zoologist studying sea creatures. Meanwhile, Leonardo's medical-student granddaughter, Marisa is summoned to take care of the injured spacemen. When Calder regains consciousness, he finds his crew mate, Dr. Sharman, in the last throes of the fatal disease that killed his crew.

After Marisa returns to the trailer she shares with her grandfather, a small creature hatches from the jelly-like mass, and Leonardo locks it in a cage. By morning, the creature has tripled in size. McIntosh arrives, accompanied by scientist Dr. Justin Uhl, and meets with Calder and Signore Contino of the Italian government. Leonardo and Marisa hitch the trailer to their truck and head for Rome. McIntosh informs the astonished Contini that Calder has just returned from Venus. Calder's crippled spacecraft carried a sealed metal container bearing an unborn species from the planet. As police divers begin to search for it, McIntosh offers a reward for the capsule's recovery, prompting Pepe to lead them to the empty container. When Pepe tells them that he sold its contents to Dr. Leonardo, now on his way to Rome, McIntosh and Calder pursue him.

That night, when Leonardo stops, he discovers that the creature has grown to the size of an adult human. Soon after, the creature breaks out of the cage and flees. Confused, the beast blunders onto a nearby farm, terrorizing the animals. Calder and the others arrive. The creature, a Ymir, eats sulfur and rips open several bags it discovers. While feeding, the Ymir encounters the farm dog and kills it, alerting the farmer. The farmer, Calder, and the others reach the barn, trapping the Ymir inside. Calder explains that the creature is not dangerous unless provoked. However, the Ymir proves virtually impossible to prod into a cage, and it injures the farmer when he stabs it with a pitchfork. When the Ymir breaks out of the barn and disappears into the countryside, the commissario of police insists that it be destroyed.

After the Italian government grants Calder permission to track and capture the creature, he devises a plan to subdue the Ymir by ensnaring it in a giant electric net dropped from a helicopter. The Italian police conduct their own pursuit, shooting at the creature with flamethrowers. Aware that sulfur is the creature's food of choice, Calder uses the mineral as bait, luring the Ymir to a secluded site and then subduing it with an electric jolt from the net. Later, at the American Embassy in Rome, McIntosh briefs the press corps and allows three reporters to view the creature, which has been placed in the Rome zoo. There, Calder explains that the Ymir has been sedated with a strong anesthetic, allowing it to be studied. Marisa, who is there aiding her uncle, begins to flirt with Calder. Suddenly, an electrical equipment shorts out, releasing the creature from its stupor.

The fully grown Ymir from 20 Million Miles to Earth.

Now a huge size, the Ymir enters into combat with an elephant, sending the panicked zoo visitors scurrying. Going into the streets of Rome, the two destroy cars and damage to buildings. The Ymir eventually defeats the elephant and continues its rampage. Calder tracks the creature to the River Tiber, where it submerges. When the military lobs bombs into the river, the Ymir surfaces and heads for the Colosseum. It destroys an ancient temple, killing many soldiers. As the Ymir disappears into the vast cavern of the Colosseum, Calder charges after it with a group of bazooka-carrying soldiers, driving it to the top of the ruins. Calder scores a direct hit with a bazooka. After he fires a second time and scores another critical hit, the Ymir plunges to its death, after which a relieved Marisa runs into Calder's arms.



20 Million Miles to Earth was in production in Rome, Italy in September 1956, using only William Hopper of the main cast, and in the U.S. from October 30 to November 9 of that year.[2] Rome was chosen as the location for filming because Harryhausen wanted to vacation there.[2] The working title of the film was The Giant Ymir,[2] and it has also been released as The Beast from Space. In the released version of the film, the creature is never referred to by name, as Harryhausen was concerned that audiences might confuse "Ymir" with the Arabic title "Emir".

Ray Harryhausen wanted the film to be shot in color, but the filmmakers were not given a budget large enough to accommodate color film. In 2007, five years after the death of the film's director, Harryhausen worked with restoration and colorization company Legend Films to create a colorized version of the film. That version, along with the original theatrical black-and-white version, was released as part of a 50th Anniversary Edition of the film on July 31, 2007.[3][4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Steven Utley. "Film Review: 20 Million Miles to Earth". Bewilderingstories.com. Retrieved July 16, 2016. 
  2. ^ a b c "20 Million Miles to Earth (1957) - Overview". TCM.com. Retrieved November 16, 2013. 
  3. ^ Thomas, Brian (May 23, 2007). "Special 50th Anniversary DVD of Harryhausen Classic '20 Million Miles to Earth' restored for special 2-disc colorized edition". iF magazine. Archived from the original on September 27, 2007. Retrieved July 16, 2016. 
  4. ^ Ball, Ryan (May 23, 2007). "20 Million Miles Gets Color on Disc". Animation Magazine. 

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