Movies and Film

All the Way From Outer Space, a… – Stranger From Venus (1954)

StrangerFVenus (9)
Stranger From Venus is a fairly unassuming, little British science-fiction film that more than anything, makes you think about what it presents should it actually happen.  Comparatively, it is quite like The Day the Earth Stood Still, though it has very little in the way of special effects or makeup or even big name stars aside from Patricia Neal who was also in the aforementioned film.  The movie finds a man come down from the planet Venus, an envoy of sorts who is here to find out all he can of Earth, to find out if it is safe for his people to land and meet humanity and to offer them aid.  The Venusians are a race that are far more advanced than us and they are frightened at the way we casually play with atomic bombs and such, worried that one day, we as a species will ultimately destroy their race without actually knowing we are doing it.  It sounds complicated but when spelled out, makes sense and it is at this point in the film when mankind does what they do best, being the untrustworthy species we are, and break out the war machines.

As stated, the picture does make you think about just what would happen if we were to be visited by a seemingly friendly race of aliens.  Would we come out guns blazing, shoot first and ask questions later?  Or would we send someone to actually converse with the creature, to find out just what it is that they want and perhaps create some sort of peaceful resolution?  It also questions our use of atomic bombs and how we as a race only create to destroy, something many science-fiction films of the day would do.  The film does have many similarities to The Day the Earth Stood Still storywise, with the alien coming down and essentially telling the Earth to shape up or else, but Stranger From Venus is a bit weaker in the script department, not being as smart nor taking as many risks as that other film did.  While the story does hold your interest, it is a little dry at times, and the fact that while this stranger is an alien, the fact that so many people take his word for what he says, almost unquestioning, is a little silly.  Had this film been made fifty years later, the response to this alien and what he has to say about our destructive natures would be met in a very different manner and in turn, be a very changed movie.

Again, there were very little special effects and of them that were, they were quite minimal.  While the script might not have been as good as it could have been, it was certainly good enough that you were captivated by it to not need anything other than the actors and their words.  Helmut Dantine was convincing as the alien, his accent working to give him that slight edge of believability and Patricia Neal was as competent as ever though her performance felt a little flat.  As it was, they carried the film and it was enjoyable to see them do so.  Written by Desmond Leslie and Hans Jacoby and directed by Burt Balaban, they knew the kind of movie they were going for, one that did not feature obligatory action scenes or monsters or any such sort, instead wanting the audience to think about just what it was they were watching.  In the end, the movie was less about the alien and more a commentary on humanity and even so, while some things still ring true about it, the film was definitely a product of its times.  Though the age of the film does not really take anything away from the viewing experience,  it is a film that most likely could not be made today, only for the simple fact that it would not have the box office draw to make it a success.  It is a solid picture and one that should you track it down, is worth at least one viewing.

3.5 out of 5

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