Monday, March 28, 2011

On Screen -- The Man From Planet X (1951)


 "The Man From Planet X" is pretty well done considering the budget for it was only about $50,000.  It's a moody story about a scientist, Professor Elliot, who sets up an observatory on a Scottish island to study an uncharted planet that is passing very close to the Earth.  A news reporter John Lawrence,  is there to cover the story.  Also staying with the professor is his daughter, Enid,  and his assistant Dr. Mears who just happened to arrive there a couple of weeks earlier and who has a shady and questionable past. 

While walking out on the moors John and Enid find an alien object and bring it back to the lab to examine it.  Not long afterwards, Enids' car breaks down along the road and as she's walking back home she notices strange flashing lights coming from a spacecraft and very shortly thereafter comes face to face with an alien, "The Man From Planet X."  Everyone goes to investigate and when the alien follows them back to the observatory, the professor and doctor try to communicate with the alien to determine if he is here peacefully or with hostile intentions.  We soon find out as the alien begins taking control of the villagers by mental telepathy.  Basic 50s low budget sci fi.

"Professor Elliot" is played by Raymond Bond, and his daughter "Enid" is played by Margaret Field (mother of actress Sally Field).  The reporter is played by Robert Clarke, and "Dr. Mears" is played by one of the hardest working people in film and television William Schallert.
MGM fun facts - Edgar G. Ulmer filmed "The Man From Planet X" using some of the same sets that were used during the filming of "Joan of Arc" (1948) starring Ingrid Bergman.  The alien can only communicate in musical tones, a concept used over 25 years later in "Close Encounters of the Third Kind."

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