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When Worlds Collide

Richard Derr , Barbara Rush , Rudolph Maté    G (General Audience)   VHS Tape
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (47 customer reviews)

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Winner of the 1951 Academy Award for Best Special Effects, this science fiction extravaganza set a new standard for the realistic depiction of cinematic disasters. Of course, it's a quaint curiosity by today's technological standards, but as produced by visual effects pioneer George Pal, this story of Earth's collision with a runaway star is still a dazzling example of screen sci-fi from the '50s, when special effects were entering a new stage of advancement. Despite scientists' warnings about the star's destructive potential, government officials refuse to take action that could cause international panic, but a consortium of private industrialists prepare for the worst by building a gigantic spaceship--an ark for humanity to begin life anew on a distant planet. Who will be chosen to go, and who left behind? As earthquakes roar and massive tidal waves devastate entire cities, the huge rocket prepares for take-off from its miles-long launching ramp--ready to abandon the shattered Earth! Although it's more enjoyable now as a cinematic museum piece, When Worlds Collide remains a milestone of its kind, leading the way for many more screen disasters that followed this movie's still-worthy example. --Jeff Shannon

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Original Feb. 14 2004
By David
Before Deep Impact and Armageddon, there was When Worlds Collide.
Astronomers in South Africa--one played by Hayden Rorke, who went on the play Dr. Bellows in 'I Dream of Jeannie'--discover a star is on a collision course with Earth. Along with associates in America, most notably Larry Keating, in the role of Dr. Hendron, they try to convince a skeptical world that doomsday is just around the corner.
Unable to convince the world of the coming calamity, they set to work in building a rocket of salavation--to fly to what they believe is a habitable planet circling the star eventually named Zyra (the planet, they name Bellus). The rocket building is funded by a meglomaniac wheelchair-bound millionaire name Sydney Stantion--played wonderfully wicked by character actor John Hoyt. You also have Frank Cady, looking very young yet still very bald, who went on to greater fame in Green Acres.
As doomsday draws nearer, the rest of the world becomes convinced of what is to happen. As Hendon put it early in the movie, "Even a layman will be able to see the danger."
I didn't really find Richard Derr convincing as ladies' man Dave Randall. He was just a little too much Howdy Doody in the face to pull it off. The lovely Barbara Rush play Dr. Hendon's daughter, Joyce, and Randall's eventual love interest. By the way...a little Trek trivia here...Barbara Rush was the real-life wife of actor Jeffrey Hunter, who played Captain Christopher Pike in the original Star Trek pilot in 1964 (ultimately played by Shatner, of course).
The story does manage to build some tension, but the film is more genre than epic. There are some nice scenes, such as the U.N. scene (they must have spent some money on that) and closeups of the rocket. Unfortunately, the effects fall apart upon landing on Bellus.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Format:VHS Tape
Paramount's 1951 Sci Fi extravaganza dealing with the end of the world, "When Worlds Collide", was a startling creation for its time both in vivid storytelling and especially for the then state of the art special effects that rewarded Paramount with the Oscar that year. Although its look is certainly tame by today's standards it is a wonderful effort all round and makes for great viewing in its telling of the time in our Planet's life that we have all perhaps at one time thought about but can't really imagine happening: the end of our planet's life. Told in a straightforward manner the film manages to incorporate the dazzling special effects together with a rather at times mature examination of human behaviour under threatening circumstances and the lengths individuals will go to preserve their life no matter what the cost. It all makes for entertaining viewing from the old school of Sci Fi filmmaking before special effects took over completely at the expense of any real story.
The filmmakers here have actually used a rather novel approach to filming the book by Edwin Balmer by loosely basing their tale on "Noah's Ark", and have used it as the stories springboard by which a small number of individuals along with assorted cattle will be the ones to escape the World Wide holocaust when it is discovered that the Earth is due to collide with a fast approaching asteriod from far out in space. The assumption is made that a newly discovered planet called Zyra could sustain human life so all efforts are directed towards constructing a spaceship or "human ark" that will be able to travel to this new world.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
When Worlds Collide is one of my favorite films. WWC starts when that South African space observatory makes a terrifiyng discovery..the Earth is on a collision course with another star!! The scientists know the truth of what will happen, but the UN thinks that the new planet will pass the Earth's atmosphere. The scientists do know that is another planet thats called Zyra that was to have contained vegatable life, and water on it's surface. The scientists then build a giant rocket that will take a fraction of people, animals, and equipment and start a new life on Zyra. This movie took home an Oscar for it's special effects and it's packed with some good actors, Richard Derr, Barbara Rush, a very young Stuart Whitman and Frank Cady who later went on to play 'Sam Drucker' in Pettycoat Juction and Green Acres. I don't know who the guy was who played the role Dr. Hendron, but he would later go on to play on Mr.Ed as Wilburs pesty next door neighbor, and the guy who played the ruthless industry tycoon Mr.Stanton, does a very good job in the part.
The DVD version is very excellent, the movie color is outstanding, the special effects don't mess up a bit, and the sound is terrific. If you like disaster movies, give this movie a try. I recemend it.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Captures the feel of an era Oct. 26 2003
The production values in this movie are not bad, given its age. I mean, the use of models, stock footage and artwork is painfully obvious in places, but the photography is decent and it's in TECHNICOLOR! So while the effects are primitive by today's standards, they're pretty good for the era. Where the movie falls down, in my opinion, is the sappy overt religiosity and the hammy acting. And the "flight scenes" near the end are just pathetic; the passengers just sit there with no indication that they are in an accelerating (or even moving) spaceship. They look like they're sitting in a bus ... a PARKED bus! Still, I have to give this movie 3 stars just because it looks good in places and it captures the feel of an era. If a runaway star had entered our solar system in 1951, this is probably the way events would have unfolded. And the quality of the images on the DVD edition is quite nice, with rich, saturated colors. Definitely worth watching if you keep your expectations realistic.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
great movie to watch lots of good actors
Published 13 days ago by George Murray
4.0 out of 5 stars a fine classic
this 1951, in technicolour, film is a fine classic produced by George Pal. There is science, astronomers, engineers, meteor...
Nope, not a meteor. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Dia
5.0 out of 5 stars "We gotta get out of this place if it's the last thing we ever do..."
Written by Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil and recorded as a 1965 hit single by The Animals.

The star named Bellus is about to engage The Earth dispatching all of humanity... Read more
Published 13 months ago by bernie
2.0 out of 5 stars When Worlds Collide
I haven't purchased this, but DVDs usually (not always) are better quality than what you copy onto VHS from TV, so I look forward to eventually buying. Read more
Published on July 3 2004 by SonoranArizonan
2.0 out of 5 stars Originally a scf-fi epic, now a comedy
There are a handful of 1950's sci-fi movies that have a big reputation - When Worlds Collide, The Thing From Another World, Forbidden Planet, and The Day the Earth Stood Still. Read more
Published on June 19 2004 by K. Gittins
2.0 out of 5 stars Outdated movie...thanks to 2001
Well the fact is this movie is outdated. It's matte paints look like matte paintings, done very cheaply. Read more
Published on May 20 2004
3.0 out of 5 stars Not bad, but talk about non-PC run amuck!
I've seen this movie several times over the years, most recently on AMC (or was it Turner Classics?). Read more
Published on April 12 2004
1.0 out of 5 stars OMG this movie is an insult
Ok. This movie has made me so incredibley mad, talk about a stupid movie. This movie is supposedly based on the book, but... there is nothing even remotely similar to the book. Read more
Published on Oct. 17 2003 by {HB}SharkMan
5.0 out of 5 stars EEEE! THE SKY IS FALLING!
I had always wanted to see this flick as a kid after seeing numerous stills from it in the Sci-fi & monster magazines. Read more
Published on Oct. 14 2003 by 2littlemoney
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