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Greetings, and welcome to VIEWING THE CLASSICS. Here you'll find capsule reviews of vintage movies from the early days of cinema through the 1970s, with a special emphasis on sci-fi, horror, and mystery movies. Be sure to check out the Pages links, where you can find a Film Index of all my reviews, links to the reviews organized by cast members, directors, and other contributors, and links to my reviews of the films of talented young director Joshua Kennedy.

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Tuesday, February 21, 2017

The Quatermass Xperiment (1955)

Starring Brian Donlevy, Jack Warner, Margia Dean, Thora Hird, Richard Wordsworth
Directed by Val Guest
(actor & director credits courtesy IMDB.com)

Professor Quatermass successfully launches and returns a rocketship to Earth, but only one of the three pilots is found aboard, and his body is beginning to go through incredible changes.

Based on the television serial by Nigel Kneale, one of the first great Hammer productions comes to life in a gripping and suspenseful film excellently staged by Guest.  The story is condensed a bit by screenwriter Richard Landau and Guest and packed with a bit more action, but the key ideas of Kneale are wonderfully realized with top flight production values, fine photography by Walter Harvey, and an eerie music score from James Bernard.  Although I've read Kneale was not pleased with American star Donlevy's interpretation of Quatermass, and can understand his criticism based on Donlevy's gruff demeanor, I'm fond of the actor's performance, delivering dialogue in urgent and memorable speeches.  However, outdoing Donlevy is Richard Wordsworth as Victor Carroon, the ill-fated astronaut whose anguished face and pounding hand communicate all we need to know about his character despite remaining mute throughout the film.  Although the special effects are limited compared to today's, Guest makes fine choices in what he shows and what he doesn't to spur the audience's imagination.

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