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The Thing (From Another World) (1951)


Written by Tim Dirks

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Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

The Thing (From Another World) (1951)

In director Christian Nyby's influential and taut horror and science-fiction B-film hybrid thriller, based upon John W. Campbell's 1938 story Who Goes There?; this alien invasion film was producer Howard Hawks' sole science-fiction effort; the film effectively focused on character interaction, with natural and rapid-fire dialogue, and appropriate scientific jargon; it was remade by John Carpenter as The Thing (1982):

  • in November of 1950, a group of isolated scientists led by effete researcher Dr. Arthur Carrington (Robert Cornthwaite) were stationed in a remote Arctic base about 2,000 miles north of Anchorage, AK in the vicinity of the North Pole (Polar Expedition Six); Carrington's infamous background included involvement at Bikini - a reference to the nuclear test site at the remote atoll in the Marshall Islands beginning in 1946, that led to the successful development of the war-ending bombs
  • Carrington radioed a report that a strange aircraft had crashed 48 miles from the research base; AF military pilot Captain Patrick Hendry (Kenneth Tobey) (the film's hero figure) was assigned to lead a reconnaissance mission with a recovery or rescue team of five people from Anchorage, AK to the site; on the flight, Hendry was joined by Lt. Eddie Dykes (James Young) and Lt. Ken Erickson (aka "Mac" or "Macpherson") (Robert Nichols); Ned "Scotty" Scott (Douglas Spencer), a bespectacled Anchorage, AK newspaper journalist, tagged along; at the base, one of the researchers was Hendry's previous girlfriend "Nikki" Nicholson (Margaret Sheridan) - a strong-willed, independent-minded female who was serving as Carrington's science assistant
  • on a scouting mission to the circular-shaped crash site, the group discovered that a "flying saucer" UFO weighing 20,000 lbs. was buried deep in the Arctic tundra; initial efforts to detonate thermite bombs to melt the ice and free the craft failed, and they watched as the craft self-destructed with secondary charges; however, a fragment from the spacecraft nearby apparently contained an eight-foot alien-humanoid life form encased in a frozen block of ice - possibly the ship's pilot?
  • after removing the frozen spaceman from the craft and bringing it back to their research station headquarters as a block of ice, the Thing creature (James Arness, later famed for the TV western Gunsmoke), a scary-looking extra-terrestrial humanoid, was kept in a cold storeroom with watch periods scheduled to attend to it
  • the Thing accidentally thawed and escaped when its ice-block encasement melted (due to a cast-off electric blanket), and it was impervious to gunshots; it proceeded to kill a number of the 12 sled dogs outdoors (and in the process lost one arm); the arm was examined and determined to be a cellular structure identical to vegetable matter - it was a killing, superior, evolved, chlorophyll-based humanoid vegetable that fed on blood
  • although Capt. Hendry encouraged hunting the Thing with axes and guns, Carrington nervously demanded that they treat their visitor - "a stranger in a strange land" - with respect so that it could be studied ("I'm sure we can communicate with it. We must!")
  • in a tense sequence, three of the scientists were attacked and two were killed in the greenhouse by the blood-seeking, carnivorous creature; when Hendry ordered the team to open the greenhouse front door -- they were shocked that The Thing was right on the other side of the door - a 'jump-scare' moment - and Hendry managed to slam the door on the claw of its regenerated left arm, and barricade it inside; Hendry then ordered Carrington to be quarantined in his lab and quarters, and stripped of his authority to prevent him from endangering any more lives
  • meanwhile, the crazed and obsessed Carrington was conducting dangerous experiments with seed pods from the Thing; he had planted the seed pods from X's (the Thing's) severed hand into four inches of soil and fed with the base's supply of blood plasma; he showed off how the newly-sprouted "super-human" sapling plants were growing at an "amazing speed"; Hendry ordered the destruction of the plants by fire ("Burn these"), and the destruction of the creature that was captured in the greenhouse; of course, Carrington refused to buckle and stop his research experiments
  • in a suspenseful and tense sequence, Crew Chief Bob's (Dewey Martin) Geiger counter began to pick up the monstrous creature's movements with clicks and flashes - and it was heading in their direction, after escaping from the greenhouse; when it burst into the darkened mess hall room and howled, it was doused by pails filled with kerosene and set ablaze with a Veri pistol flare gun, and it was forced to retreat
  • the Creature used another tactic - it sabotaged the outside control valve for the oil line that supplied heat to the base, causing the group to flee to the high-voltage generator room for greater protection
  • their next strategy was to kill the alien visitor with a massive jolt of electricity; by directing the Creature down the narrow corridor or hallway toward the generator room, they lured it onto the electrically-charged platform and electrocuted it; just before the Creature was disintegrated into a pile of ash, Carrington attempted to intelligently talk to the Thing - desperately pleading and espousing that they could be friends, but he was knocked aside and suffered a broken collarbone
  • after the elimination of the Thing, reporter Ned Scott radioed a final chilling warning/bulletin from the North Pole: "...Watch the skies, everywhere! Keep looking, keep watching the skies!"

The Frozen Alien in the Arctic Ice

Setting the Thing Ablaze

The End to the Monstrous Creature By Electrocution

The Final Warning: "Keep Watching the Skies!"


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