I remember back in the late 70's seeing this film on television with fondness; as it was this film that made me a fan of actress Barbara Rush. It must have been a sub-conscience/subliminal influence, as I remember still back in the early 70's in vaguely seeing Barbara in another classic - `It Came From Outer Space', which should also be in your DVD library-I might add.
So it was decided then and there that Barbara was to be my first `Movie Star' that I would love to watch; and even now she is still my favourite actress after all these years-slowly but surely I hope to get all her films.
The 1950's was a treasure trove of classic science fiction films that were to influence the genre from then to the present; and thus one early movie was of course `When Worlds Collide' made in 1951.
The film was based on the 1933 novel co-written by Philip Gordon Wylie and Edwin Balmer; and was directed by Rudolph Maté and was also the winner of the 1951 Academy Award for special effects. It's not hard to see why, and along with Chesley Bonestell who helped create the artwork for the film, the movie was a success.
Chesley Bonestell was also responsible for the design of the `Space Ark' and the final scene in the movie showing the landscape on the alien world of Zyra which was actually a coloured sketch. But due to budget constraints, Rudolph Maté used this sketch rather than a finished matte painting. This of course drew the only film's most important criticism. The scene did not seem all-too realistic, especially the trees, the clouds and green fields. (My personal view is that if a film studio does not have the money to make the film, then the film should not be made; so as not to cut corners and make the film inferior).
If you take real notice to the final scenes of the film, you will see, what seems to be a large pyramid-type structure showing at the extreme left of this coloured sketch, and in the background you actually see two pyramids silhouetted against the horizon. Thus stating perhaps there was an alien civilization on Zyra. This may have been deliberate as Producer George Pal was considering making a sequel to `When Worlds Collide', based on the 1934 novel `After Worlds Collide', by the same authors, but after the failure of the film `Conquest of Space' in 1955, this was canned.
I have to say that `Conquest of Space' in my mind is an excellent science fiction film in its own right; and I thoroughly recommend it for your collection. I am still amazed what we consider cult classics today, were flops during their day.
- The Basic Story -
Basically it's about a group of scientists who discover that the Earth is going to be destroyed by a rogue planet called Bellus. So the scientists plus a volunteer group of people,who will be chosen by lot to go with the scientists, build a rocket-ship, to go to a small planet called Zyra that orbits Bellus to live after the Earth is gone.
- Personal Comments -
1] Interesting to note is that Peter Hansen and Barbara Rush appeared together the previous year in the film `Molly and the Goldbergs', aka `The Goldbergs'.
2] Larry Keating is best known as Roger Addison in the TV series `Mister Ed'.
3] Hayden Rorke is most memorable as Dr. Bellows in the TV series `I Dream of Jeannie'.
4] John Hoyt is remembered as Dr. Philip Boyce in the Star Trek pilot - `The Cage'; which also starred Jeffery Hunter, who was married to Barbara Rush between 1950-55.
5] Frank Cady is recognizable as the character Sam Drucker, the General Store owner, who appeared as a semi-regular in three TV series - `Green Acres', `Petticoat Junction' and `The Beverley Hillbillies'.
6] Watch out for uncredited young actor Stuart Whitman as a worker, helping to construct the `Space Ark', in this, his first film.
7] As other nations build their `Space Arks', the film does not go beyond that, so we don't know if these ships being constructed ever made it to Zyra.
8] I really would have liked a sequel to this film - but as always if your films fail at the box office, chances are future film projects won't get off the ground. And if `After Worlds Collide' was made; I believe it would have been the first film where the story was based on another planet. But as it stands `Forbidden Planet' took that honour.
9] The only `real' extra features that the DVD has is the `Theatrical Trailer'; and of course no booklet.
10] I really would have liked a 60th anniversary edition of this film, which would maybe have an interview with Barbara Rush, and also perhaps any behind the scenes booklet with photos, plus postcard size lobby cards, and soundtrack CD. (Wishful thinking I know, but what the heck, we can only dream).
Well that's about it, I thoroughly recommend this film to add to your DVD library, plus check out these other Science Fiction classics as well - `This Island Earth', Earth vs. the Flying Saucers', `The War of the Worlds' (1952 version), `The Day the Earth Stood Still' (1951 version), `Destination Moon' - another George Pal classic...I could go on, but you get the idea.
Thanks to the DVD of `When Worlds Collide' for addition information.