War of the worlds heat ray 1953
The heat ray gun out of war of the worlds. Out of the 1953 War of the Worlds film. The film adaptation of the H.G.Wells story told on radio of the invasion of Earth by Martians.
Director: Byron Haskin
Writers: H.G. Wells (novel), Barre Lyndon (screenplay)
Stars: Gene Barry, Ann Robinson and Les Tremayne
Tags: war of the worlds heat ray
Added: 3 years ago
H.G. Wells' 1898 classic alien invasion novel, The War of the Worlds, has been adapted several times for the big screen, most recently by Steven Spielberg five years ago (my first "Scenes We Love" entry for Cinematical), two low-budget entries, one set in Victorian times and the other in the present released to coincide with Spielberg's adaptation, and most memorably, fifty-seven years ago by producer George Pal (The Seven Faces of Dr. Lao, The Time Machine, Conquest of Space, When Worlds Collide, Destination Moon) for Paramount Pictures. Pal's adaptation, directed by Byron Haskin (The Power, Robinson Crusoe on Mars, From the Earth to the Moon, Conquest of Space) from a screenplay by Barré Lyndon, created the template for every alien invasion film that followed. The War of the Worlds won an Academy Award for its groundbreaking visual effects. It was nominated, but surprisingly didn't win, the Academy Award for the equally innovative sound design.
An unseen, unnamed, omniscient narrator (Sir Cedric Hardwicke, at his most stentorian) guides us through the prologue. He explains the Martians' decision to escape their dying world and conquer our relatively unspoiled one. Chesley Bonestell, an illustrator who specialized in science fiction, provided the full-color art for the prologue. When, finally, The War of the Worlds leaves the prologue behind, we're in the fictional town of Linda Rosa. A meteor falls from the sky. The local authorities turn to Dr. Clayton Forrester (Gene Barry), a celebrity astrophysics and nuclear science professor at the (fictional) Pacific Tech, and two fellow academics, Dr. Pryor (Robert Cornthwaite), and Dr. Bilderbeck (Sandro Giglio), vacationing in the nearby mountains, for help.
At the meteor site, Forrester meets a local "girl," Sylvia Van Buren (Ann Robinson), the obligatory romantic interest and, alas, a perfect representative of 50s'-era women on film (e.g., passive, submissive, retrograde). She's a late twenty-something librarian and science geek who fawns over the super-smart Forrester. Sylvia wrote her master's thesis on Forrester and follows his career with stalker-like intensity. She doesn't, however recognize the newly shaven Forrester. She fawns over Forrester one moment, serving coffee to military leaders another, and once the alien invasion gets underway, openly hysterical. Apparently she's a good cook, though.
When a spaceship from Mars lands on Earth a scientist Dr. Clayton Forrester (Gene Barry) goes to investigate. One of his fans-Sylvia Van Buren (Ann Robinson), an instructor of Library Science - also heads out to the site. Romance ensues.
When we first meet our librarian she appears sophisticated and poised. However she completly falls apart in the face of an alien invasion and a hunky scientist. Scientist saves the day, of course, while our librarian follows along, screaming (fortunately though her hair spray holds up throughout). We never see Sylvia working as an instructor or a librarian, in fact she never mentions it again after the first time. She is portrayed as a Red Cross volunteer who passes out coffee to the important men doing the real work, and she she does demonstrate some bravery by driving one of the evacuation school buses in hopes of taking some people to a safe area.
This movie was pure 1950s-era camp. We could only laugh at the "highlyscientific" terms like "extreme altitude" and "sonic radar" used by military men with important voices. We were surprised to see one woman scientist, who actually got to speak on a few occasions.
Even science fiction in the form of War of the Worlds (1953), doesn't cut librarians much slack or endow them with too many smarts. Leading lady Ann Robinson, playing a library science teacher named Sylvia Van Buren (great librarian name!), spends most of the movie shrieking and losing her composure while Gene Barry, (looking very bright and fetching in his horn rims, as shown at left), keeps trying to figure out some way to put the kibosh on those pesky aliens, (that is, in between pitching woo Miss Robinson‘s way). I don't think the librarian in her ever voices any concern about trying to preserve thousands of years of human knowledge that is rapidly being incinerated by the invaders, (along with a billion or so earthlings).
Of course, Sylvia the Librarian does show some skill driving a truck in a pinch. I guess she must've had a few minutes to peruse the Truck Driver's Manual back when things were slow at Library School. This fast-paced, entertainingly scary 85 minute movie doesn't give her or the audience much time to reflect on what's being lost in this clash of species, though thank goodness, Sylvia Van Buren is one of the survivors who can start cataloging once again among the debris of civilization.
Clayton and colleagues are on a fishing trip in the mountains of Riverside, California, when a meteor falls nearby. Clayton is asked to investigate. The next day at the meteor site Clayton meets Sylvia Van Buren and her uncle, Pastor Matthew Collins. Later that night, fantastic Martian spaceships arise out of the meteor. Pastor Collins extends the hand of human friendship but the invaders turn their heat ray on him. The military tries to stop the invaders, but their weapons have no effect. General Mann even orders a nuclear weapon to be used, but it too is useless. More meteors and more spaceships arrive on Earth, and it seems that nothing will stop the invaders from conquering the world. Inside a church Clayton and Sylvia hold each other for what appears to be the last moment of their lives when, unexpectedly, the spaceships begin to crash. The narrator explains that the Martians had no immunity to the bacteria that God, in his wisdom, created to defend humanity.
One of the best scenes in the 1953 version occurs when the army has the alien spacecraft surrounded. As the alien crafts appear (remember, this is 1953, so don't dwell on the wires that are visible holding up the spacecraft), a local pastor approaches them, hoping to keep the situation from escalating into violence. His niece (Ann Robinson) tries to go stop him, but is held back by the soldiers and her soon-to-be boyfriend (Gene Barry). As he walks closer to the alien craft, reciting scripture, we hear the niece's screams in the background. The aliens fire on the uncle — the niece screams – the army Colonel commands "Let 'em have it!" —- and the dogs of war are unleashed. Pure cinema!