This review is my contribution to the 1950's Monster Mash Blogathon running from yesterday July 28th through August 2nd and hosted by FORGOTTEN CLASSICS OF YESTERYEAR.
Each day of the Blogathon various bloggers will post an individual review on a Monster flick from the 50's. You will be able to link to each blogger's post directly from FORGOTTEN CLASSICS OF YESTERYEAR. So go take a look. Host, Nathanael Hood has worked extra hard to pull this whole thing together (over 40 contributors signed up) and there will be many monsterous films to talk about every day.
It falls to me to write a rational piece about an essentially irrational film. I MARRIED A MONSTER FROM OUTER SPACE (1958) starring Tom Tryon and Gloria Talbott, written by Lous Vittes and directed by Gene Fowler, Jr.
This was a movie I had never seen before but when the Blogathon was first announced, I didn't move quickly enough to grab my favorite title(s) and well, that's how I got my chance to see this creaky...uh, creepy 50's monster 'classic' for the first time.
This over-long (or maybe it just seemed that way) movie could be seen as a very B-minus version of the very B - plus, INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS with Gloria Talbott (who seemed to show up in just about every film made in the 50's - usually in some form of distress), in the Kevin McCarthy role of frustrated clarion. The movie's not a direct copy, mind you, but yeah, it's the similar idea of aliens from outer space taking over the bodies of humans for some nefarious purpose of their own.
In this case, the plan appears to be male aliens mating with human females to propagate a species in which all females have died out due to their inability to stand the effects of an unstable sun. (The women naturally being weaker then the men - even in outer space, females can't catch a break, at least in the 50's.)
Happy-go-lucky (even if he does drive a station wagon), about-to-be married insurance salesman, Bill Farrell (played by the woodenly handsome presence, Tom Tryon) is accosted on his way home on the night before his wedding. He stops on a country lane having seen - he thinks - a dead body. Once he exits his car, he is immediately 'absorbed' by some dark, foggy looking smoke emanating from a creepy space alien who appears at the side of the road perhaps looking for a lift.
The alien takes Bill's form and shows up at the wedding the next day. Once married to the comely Marge Bradley (Gloria Talbott), they soon set off for their honeymoon. At this point I was already having an 'ugh' factor reaction.
Marge notices that something is not quite right with hubby, we see her writing a letter to her mother (which she doesn't mail but throws in the garbage) stating how 'differently' Bill is behaving. But before you can say 'alien in human form' a year has gone by and darn, Marsha is still not pregnant. The doctor has assured her that she is in fine health and that perhaps he should see her husband for a check-up. Yeah, right, that's gonna' happen.
One day, Marge brings home a dog from a pet store (she obviously doesn't know that a pet store is the last place to buy a dog, but I digress...) as a surprise 'present' for Bill on their one year anniversary. The dog growls and snarls at Bill (you can't fool a dog) and they put the pup in the basement - tied up in the dark. ANIMAL CRUELTY ALERT! (Things were different back then.) For whatever reason, Bill later goes down the basement and the dog meets an untimely end. SECOND ALERT! We don't see much of this. Marge is horrified, but Bill tells her the dog got himself snared in the leash. Sounds reasonable. Right.
He comes up from the basement and she's curled up on the sofa reading a magazine. Of course. That's what we'd all do right after a dog has died in our basement under suspicious circumstances. She doesn't even wonder what will happen to the body nor does she appear to feel the slightest twinge of guilt. She is inert. He is inert. This was the inert 50's.
The thing is, there really wasn't much else for women to do in films. In those days they more or less stood around, flirted with the hero when necessary, wrung their hands, jumped at the slightest noise, tripped over rocks and screeched when a monster jumped out of the shadows. In the small town of Norrisville in which this story takes place, women grew up, married, had kids. That was IT. Not much variety. Although you'd think marrying an alien would add a bit of spice to Marge's life. But maybe not. Hard to tell the 'real' Bill Farrell from the wooden imitation since Tom Tryon - better known later in life as a best selling author - was never the most animated of fellows. (When he does try to animate himself in this film, the moments are 'cringe-inducing'.)
In the meantime, the aliens haven't been lying around doing nothing. In ONE whole year, they've managed to effect a couple of transformations: the chief of police (who happens to be Marge's godfather), two cops and some friends of Bill who then hurry up and marry, eager to make alien babies - not that that appears to be happening any time soon. But here's the thing: In ONE year, this is all these aliens have managed to do? Well, actually, I think there are only two or three of them in the one ship and I guess it takes time to figure out who to absorb next. But, a year?!
One night the enterprising and increasingly suspicious Marge follows Bill on a night time jaunt out to the space ship. She in a nightgown and robe running up the mountain road, he, casually though not formally dressed. Somehow he has no suspicious he's being followed by his wife and still manages to kill a cat on the way, much to Marge's continued horror. ANIMAL CRUELTY ALERT!! (Yeah, I know it's not a 'real' dead cat. but honestly...) When Bill shows up at the ship Marge sees some ugly business indeed and realizes what's what with her imitation hubby and animal rights violator.
She runs back to town and tries to alert people, but to no avail. Who believes her? No one that's who. Not even friends. When she runs to her godfather, the chief of police, we realize he's been absorbed too. He tells her to go back home and make the best of it. Ha! Advice women have been getting for thousands of years. Anyway, he tells her that running away might look suspicious, at best she should act as if nothing is wrong. See what I mean? Women being told to act as if nothing is wrong. Why does that sound so familiar? Sometimes you just have to shake your head.
But what else can she do?
It isn't as if she were man.
At any rate, back home she goes. There we have some claustrophobically effective scenes of menace as she does, indeed, try to make the best of a quirky situation. Later, when she's had enough, she tries to drive out of town but there are some road blocks set across the one access road and the two cops who have been 'absorbed' by the aliens stop her. The road ahead is washed out even though it hasn't rained in months. Marge knows that's a crock but does she throw caution to the winds and crash through the flimsy road block and make a mad dash to freedom? Of course not, it wouldn't be lady-like.
The pressure's on.
We get the impression that the entire town except Marge has been taken over by aliens.
But, not so.
She finally goes to her medical man, Dr. Wayne, played by gruff appearing, gruff speaking Ken Lynch (The same guy who played the gruff mining engineer in my favorite Star Trek episode, The Horta.) He believes Marge when no one else will and figures out that the only men who can be trusted are men whose wives have recently delivered earth babies. (There have been no alien birthings yet since apparently, implementing their take-over plans is not the only thing the aliens are sluggish about.)
The doc rounds up several athletic new fathers armed with guns, rifles and shotguns, and off they go into the hills hunting aliens and their space ship. One of the men brings his two German Shepherds along. Uh-oh.
But then, in the end, it's the dogs who save the day and the reason why Bill saw fit to murder a pup in his basement is possibly explained.
The doc and his men find the 'bodies' of the absorbed men inside the space ship, attached to tubes and things which relayed information to the aliens inside the human husks. They rip out the tubes and as they do, the few aliens in town expire and some oogy, mushy stuff oozes out of their clothing as they flop on the ground.
The real Bill is reunited with a happily ever after Marge and except for a few dead domestic animals and humans, alls well that ends well. Oh yeah, then the space ship blows up.
Most of this film is supposed to take place at night and one of the main problems with the 'look' of things is that scenes were actually shot in daytime then darkened, as was the case back then. This never worked properly and night time very often looked like late afternoon or early evening. Disconcerting to say the least.
Question: Why did the aliens only infect a few individuals in that one long year? What else were they doing? If there were only two or three of them, it seems kind of a lackluster invasion. I mean, they had BIG plans to breed with earth women, take over the world and save their species - right? But in the end it looks like there are only about seven bodies in the ship. A kind of wimpy invasion force, I'd have thought.
I know, I know - Yvette, you can't expect logic. I mean, in THE THING From Another World, there was only one ship and one alien. But he did have a means of reproducing quickly - the little innocent seeming plantlets? So, it's not quite the same.
One main thing I did love about this film are all the gorgeous 1950's cars. Honestly, some of those two-toned hunky machines were absolutely drool-worthy.
I have several favorite films from this era (this is not one of them) but, as I said, those titles were quickly commandeered by my fellow bloggers (darn!). I would much rather have been talking about, THE THING From Another World, THIS ISLAND EARTH, WAR OF THE WORLDS, THE CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON, THEM or IT CAME FROM OUTER SPACE. But, that's the way the cookie crumbles. No use crying over spilt milk. Ha! I'll be reading posts on these films and many others over the next few days, same as you. Can't wait. I'm a big fan of films from the 50's and I love this whole Blogathon idea.
Not a scene from the film, but a great 'still' anyway.