The 27th Day
|The 27th Day|
|Directed by||William Asher|
|Produced by||Helen Ainsworth|
|Written by||Robert M. Fresco (uncredited)|
|Based on||The 27th Day|
by John Mantley
|Music by||Mischa Bakaleinikoff|
|Edited by||Jerome Thoms|
|Distributed by||Columbia Pictures|
The 27th Day is a 1957 American black-and-white science fiction film from Columbia Pictures, produced by Helen Ainsworth, directed by William Asher, and starring Gene Barry, Valerie French, George Voskovec, and Arnold Moss. The screenplay by John Mantley is based on his 1956 original science fiction novel of the same name.
Englishwoman Evelyn Wingate, American reporter Jonathan Clark, Chinese peasant Su Tan, German physicist Klaus Bechner, and Soviet soldier Ivan Godofsky are randomly transported to an alien spacecraft in Earth orbit. There, they are met by a humanoid referring to himself only as "The Alien" (Arnold Moss), who explains that he is the representative of 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, hand-held case. Each capsule is capable of destroying all human life within a 3,000-mile diameter, with the expectation that humanity will use all the capsules, obliterating itself, leaving the Earth free for alien colonization. The capsules' clear containers can only be opened by the thought waves of the person to whom they were given. Once out in the open, the capsules inside can then be used by anyone, but only during the next 27 days, after which they become inert.
Returned to Earth, Eve (Valerie French) throws her capsules into the English Channel and then books a flight to Los Angeles. Su Tan (Marie Tsien) 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 to the world the existence and power of the capsules. Overhearing the broadcast while on a trip to the U.S., Bechner (George Voskovec) is hit by a car while crossing the street and is taken to the hospital, while Pvt. Godofsky (Azemat Janti) is detained by his superiors. Arriving in Los Angeles, Eve is met by a now-disguised Clark (Gene Barry), who takes her to a closed race track where they can hide, undetected. Godofsky is interviewed by a Soviet general (Stefan Schnabel) who, dissatisfied with his vague story, orders him subjected to intense interrogation.
Panic over the Alien's crisis grows in the days that follow. Repeated beatings leave Godofsky in shock, while a recovering Bechner refuses to reveal the details of The Alien's plan. After two Communist agents 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 U.S. government custody. Through the application of sodium pentothal to Godofsky, the Soviets discover The Alien's plan and gain access to his capsules. Their resulting announcement fuels global anxiety, prompting the other two (Su Tan's suicide early on neutralized her capsules) to cooperate with U.S. authorities. Confronted with an ultimatum for all U.S. military forces to withdraw throughout the world, the government tests one of Bechner's capsules to verify the Soviet 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. begins withdrawing its forces worldwide.
On board a U.S. Navy destroyer at sea as a deterrent against the Soviet capsules being used against America, Bechner, Clark, and Eve discuss their concerns that the Soviets will use them at the last minute, avoiding retaliation. Determined to find another way, Bechner studies the remaining capsules and discovers an imprinted mathematical code on them. As the Soviet general prepares to use the capsules from a balcony, Godofsky rushes him, and the capsules fall to the ground two stories below. At the very same moment, Bechner simultaneously launches his remaining capsules and the ones from Clark's container. He has deciphered the hidden code and discovered that the capsules can be programmed. The world is then blanketed with a high-pitched sonic wave that kills every "known enemy of human freedom".
In the aftermath, at an undisclosed later time, a now united humanity under the United Nations extends an invitation to The Alien and his people to coexist peacefully. It turns out that the preceding events had actually been a test of character, a way for The Alien to judge mankind's true nature. The Alien accepts, and a new day like no other dawns for humanity.
- Warren, Bill. Keep Watching The Skies, American Science Fiction Movies of the Fifties, Vol I: 1950–1957. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company, 1982. ISBN 0-89950-032-3.
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