Providing further evidence that 1951's The Day the Earth Stood Still
had an immediate and lasting influence, this quiet little gem from 1954 spins off from the earlier film's trendsetting premise, and features a fine role for that classic's costar, Patricia Neal. With those similarities accounted for, it's only fair to assess Stranger from Venus
on its own terms. Fashioned more like a respectable B-movie melodrama than a sci-fi thriller, it offers only a few seconds of cheesy special effects (in the form of an ultra-low-budget flying saucer), and instead emphasizes mature dialogue and competent acting to deliver the time-honored theme that humankind has a lot to learn on the intergalactic scale of civilized behavior.
Helmut Dantine plays the title role--a dapper gent from Venus who arrives in a rural English town, possessing awesome powers (and a brain packed with the entirety of human knowledge), and intending only to inform the military powers-that-be of the dangers of atomic weaponry. With her trademark empathy, Neal plays a local American who understands, accepts, and quietly falls in love with the nameless alien. There must be tragedy, of course, and when the military hawks prevent the Venusian's rendezvous with his mother ship, the cost is regrettably high. (As we've learned earlier, centuries-old Venusians merely vanish when they expire.) By this time, however, the requisite wisdom has been expressed, human foolishness has been exposed and humbled by alien superpowers, and Stranger from Venus ends on a quiet note of melancholy optimism. Unfolding with thoughtfulness and filmmaking economy, this is an obscure genre entry that devoted fans are encouraged to discover. --Jeff Shannon
Tonight, first contact will be made! A beautifully-crafted tale of a superior being from Venus who has the power of life and death at his touch. Academy Award-winning actress Patricia Neal's glowing and sensitive performance as a woman caught up in the biggest event in history is complemented by Helmut Dantine's powerful, moving portrayal as the Stranger. Suggested by events in the sci-fi classic "The Day the Earth Stood Still," this film is a touching, humanizing and haunting story of "first contact" with a peaceful and advanced intelligence from another planet coming to Earth with an ultimatum and out-of-this-world powers to back it up.