Saturday, January 17, 2015

20 Million Miles To Earth (1957)

Starring William Hopper, Joan Taylor, Frank Puglia, John Zaremba, Thomas B. Henry
Directed by Nathan Juran
(actor & director credits courtesy IMDB.com)

A spaceflight on a return trip from Venus crashes in the Italian sea, unleashing a creature from the planet that grows to a tremendous size on Earth.

We have here one of stop-motion animator Ray Harryhausen's finest films, with his detailed character animation for the Venusian creature, (dubbed the "Ymir" although never called that in the picture), among his very best work in my opinion.  The Italian setting also lends itself quite well to the exciting staging of the spaceship's waterbound crash, the Ymir's battle with an elephant in Rome's zoo, and the creature's final stand atop the famous Colosseum.  Avoiding the mistake other sci-fi filmmakers make in placing an overemphasis on the human characters and their subplots, the filmmakers wisely keep the monster front and center, and their cast largely relegated to the background.

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