The Man from Planet X

09/02/2021 06:40

Film: The Man from Planet X

Year: 1951

Director: Edgar G. Ulmer

Writer: Aubrey Wisberg and Jack Pollexfen

Starring: Robert Clarke, Margaret Field and Raymond Bond



This was a movie that I’m not sure when I heard about it, but I’ve known about its existence for some time. I wouldn’t be shocked if was due to Stephen King in his book ‘Dance Macabre’. Regardless, I wasn’t the biggest fan of this era so I hadn’t checked it out. I finally am thanks to my Odyssey through the Ones for Journey with a Cinephile: A Horror Movie Podcast. The synopsis here is as a mysterious planet hurls itself toward Earth, an enigmatic extraterrestrial scout arrives on a remote Scottish island with unknown intentions.

For this movie we start in a tower in the middle of some moors. John Lawrence (Robert Clarke) suspects that everyone he was with is dead since they’ve taken by an unknown creature from the planet X. The movie then goes into the past to get us up to speed. John is a newspaper reporter and he meets with Dr. Robert Blane (Gilbert Fallman) who is an astronomer. The biggest discovery recently is that an unknown planet has been discovered. Currently, they’re dubbing it planet X. A colleague of Dr. Blane’s is the one who discovered it. John decides to pay him a visit.

For a bit more back-story that was shared there, Dr. Blane states that this planet doesn’t follow a normal axis. It has gone rogue and heading toward Earth. John’s destination is a Scottish island that will be the closest point on Earth to the planet. It is there that he met at the docks by the daughter of the man he is going to meet, Enid Elliot (Margaret Field). They head to the tower and during their drive we learn that John knew this woman when she was younger. He didn’t recognize her now that she is all grown up.

At the tower we get to meet her father of Prof. Elliot (Raymond Bond). He is working alongside a Dr. Mears (William Schallert). John doesn’t like that Dr. Mears showed up when he did as we learn he has a checkered past. These two men go about their research while John spends time with Enid.

Things all take a turn when the couple finds an odd rocket shaped item. It is believed to be from planet X due to the metal it is made from. They make a much bigger discovery which includes an extraterrestrial creature that is dubbed, The Man from Planet X (Pat Goldin).

That is where I’ll leave my recap of the movie and then to shift into my thoughts here, I found this movie to be enjoyable. It runs 71 minutes, which made it fly by. I’ll be honest though; I think that they do well in putting enough into the story as well. It starts with an interesting group of characters. We have a newspaper reporter, a love interest for him along with an old and young scientist.

Where I think I should delve into first would be the dynamic of where the movie takes place. We are isolated on this island. That is good as it allows us to have a small cast we can get to know. I like there is tension that John doesn’t trust Dr. Mears knowing his past. Prof. Elliot is a bit naïve but does want this brilliant mind’s help. Enid doesn’t trust him either. Being that she isn’t part of the experiment, her thoughts don’t seem to matter. I do wish she could have been given a bit more here to be honest.

From here, let’s go to the major ‘villain’ of the story. We have this alien that comes to Earth. I love that planet X is considered rogue. My mother has a series of books which I’ve read some that are talking about the history of Earth and how there could be a planet like this that has an odd orbit. For this, the planet coming closer and changing its orbit makes the scientists wonder why. It ends up being a common thread for aliens visiting Earth from movies and literature. What I do like is that it looks humanoid. It has a gun, but at first it is nice to Prof. Elliot and John when they help it. The problem then becomes Dr. Mears and this leads to the people disappearing. In my eyes, Dr. Mears is the real villain here. What he does makes The Man from Planet X hostile. The more we learn about why planet X is here does complicate this as well. I can work with the lines being blurred where both characters aren’t completely evil.

I should then go into the social commentary here. Before I started watching movies from this era, it was ingrained in my head that many of them are an allegory to communism or other ideologies that are different from those believed in the United States. This alien does have a beam that makes people into mindless slaves. There is also the backdrop that is introduced early this could be an invasion. I can see the fear of things like the Cold War here for sure. It is still relative today with some beliefs that people still hold about ideologies they deem ‘dangerous’ as well.

Next, I’ll take this to the acting. I like Clarke as our hero here. He has a good look about him and has a screen presence. It is interesting that he is a newspaper reporter though since they tend to be looked down upon in movies as they can cause problems. It is interesting as well that he is American. Field is fine in her performance, but she isn’t much more than John’s love interest. I wish they would have done more with her character. Bond is solid as her father and the professor. Schallert is also good as Dr. Mears. He’s our true villain to me and he fits this well. Aside from that, I thought the rest of the cast rounded this out for what was needed with special attention to Goldin for being The Man from Planet X.

Then the last things to go into would be the effects, cinematography and the soundtrack. For the former, we don’t get a lot of them. I did like the look of the spaceship. John points out that it looks like a diving bell. Prof. Elliot states how water and space aren’t that much different aside from the pressure. It is cool to use this concept there. The look of the alien isn’t great though. I do have a soft spot, but it doesn’t look like as much care was taken. The cinematography is fine. As for the soundtrack, it fit for what was needed. What I liked is this buzzing sound that we get when The Man from Planet X is trying to talk. That was an interesting touch for me.

So then in conclusion here, this is a solid sci-fi horror movie from the 1950’s. I like the concept of this rogue planet coming toward Earth and the worst-case scenario implications there. We get some interesting characters where the acting helps bring them to life. The effects are fine, aside from the look of the alien. It doesn’t ruin the movie though, especially since they worked with what they had. I thought the sound design there was good with the rest of the soundtrack fitting for what was needed. The allegory here isn’t as heavy handed and I can appreciate that as well. This is an above average movie for me. It was a fast and enjoyable watch.


My Rating: 7 out of 10