Movies and Film

Well, Almost… – The Night the World Exploded (1957)

Dr. Conway has created a machine that can predict earthquakes, and which of course just happens to predict one.  And it hits bad.  What was the possible cause?  How could the Earth’s axis have shifted three degrees? It seems strange, yet has happened all due to the fact of a new element that has made its way closer to the surface of the Earth, now dubbed Element 112.  With its explosive properties when exposed to the air, it has the capability to destroy the entire Earth unless kept under water.  Soon Conway’s earthquake machine predicts that the Earth has only 28 days left until it violently explodes.  So now it is up to all the peoples of the planet to come together to put a desperate plan into action, but will it be in time?

Good film about a subject done many times over, but one that never gets boring as there are so many ways to chronicle the world’s end.  The Night the World Exploded, put out by Columbia Pictures, details one man’s travails to have his work be taken seriously and to literally save the planet.  When the earthquakes start happening, it is only then that the higher-ups start listening. William Leslie plays our hero, Dr. Conway, the man with the brains and the know-how who invents the miraculous machine.  He puts in a commendable performance and is thoroughly engaging throughout the film, something many B-movie actors cannot seem to do.

Kathryn Grant plays opposite Leslie as Laura Hutchinson, straddling the line between damsel in distress and female empowerment but never quite knowing exactly which one it is she is supposed to portray.  It is only at the end of the film that her character finally seems to decide who she is, showing us that there is a strong woman underneath all the doubts and tears and puts her life in mortal danger to be with the man she loves.

For a budget film, it featured some good effects combined with stock footage of various earthquake-like disasters.  Element 112 was one of the few items in the film that actually required some original effects, but what the filmmakers might have saved on post-production and technical wizardry was obviously channeled back into the script and the hiring of decent actors.

One of the few things this film did than others of its ilk, was focus upon cooperation between governments and nations of the world.  In the film, they had 28 days until the world would cease to exist and everyone came together at the behest of an American scientist to put a plan in motion to save it.  If it were to actually happen in today’s society it would be surprising if they could even get it done in 28 years much less 28 days with the distrust and discord that exists currently.  Science-fiction indeed!

This is easily a film that could be watched more than once for any fan of the genre.  It was well made, with some very decent actors including Tristram Coffin, Raymond Greenleaf and the aforementioned Grant and Leslie.  The script by Jack Natteford and Luci Ward was well done and Fred F. Sears did a top-notch job directing, and for a movie without an A-list cast or budget, it really stands out as an example of making the best with what you have.

4 out of 5

3 replies »

  1. Glad you enjoyed this one, and it looks better than its budget would suggest. I love some of the posters of it. I am starting to believe that I have a very serious obsession with old school looking movie posters!


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