Howard Hawks

The Film That Inspired John Carpenter’s The Thing

By Woofer McWooferson

The Thing From Another World (1951) Title Screen

Directors: Christian Nyby, Howard Hawks (uncredited); Writers: Charles Lederer (screenplay), John W. Campbell Jr. (short story “Who Goes There?”); Stars: Kenneth Tobey, Margaret Sheridan, James Arness; Rating: U; Run Time: 87 min; Genre: Sci-Fi | Horror; Country: USA; Language: English; Year: 1951

The Thing From Another World (1951) is the first attempt to bring “Who Goes There?”, the John W. Campbell Jr. short story, to life. While very true to the story in some aspects, it is quite different as well – more different than the two adaptations that follow. The Thing From Another World follows Captain Patrick “Pat” Hendry (Kenneth Tobey), his crew, and reporter Ned “Scotty” Scott (Douglas Spencer) who accompanies them as they travel to assist a North Pole scientific outpost. According to Dr. Arthur Carrington (Robert Cornthwaite), a scientist who has won every accolade the scientific community has to offer, something has crashed about 80 miles away and the crashed object is sufficiently magnetic to throw off compass readings. Dr. Carrington then explains why they believe the item is very likely an alien craft, and the a group soon sets out to recover what they can. After a disastrous attempt to remove the ship with thermite, they busy themselves with manually recoving a frozen being that must have come from the craft. What follows is their struggle to deal with the being when it is accidentally thawed and it returns to life, attacking the gathered and their sled dogs (Siberian Huskies) with impunity. While the main plot involves the craft and creature, there is a subplot involving Pat and Nikki (Margaret Sheridan) Dr. Carrington’s secretary. This may seem distracting at first, but it actually ties back into the main plot when Nikki passes important information to Pat.

The Thing From Another World (1951) Pacing Off the Craft

Directed by Christian Nyby, whose credits include many TV shows ranging from Perry Mason to Adam-12, The Thing From Another World has many hallmarks of a Howard Hawks (Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, Scarface) film, such as multiple simultaneous conversations. Hawks was producer as well as Nyby’s mentor, so it seems highly appropriate that it would be very Hawksesque. Nevertheless, the film received criticism and many accused it of being directed by Hawks who, they believed, allowed Nyby to put his name to it. The film is quick and crisp and trimmed of any possible fat. Even the scenes between Nikki and Pat do not feel forced or irrelevant. On the contrary, they help establish character as well as setting by showing the different ways they and others react to the situation as it escalates.

Kenneth Tobey (Hellraiser: Bloodline, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine) is confident and charismatic as the captain who must consider and the safety of everyone with the regulations and orders from his higher ups, all while handling Dr. Carrington and his ego. Robert Cornthwaite’s portrayal of Dr. Carrington, a scientist whose faith is rooted solely in the scientific community and whose reputation is impeccable is right on the nose. He is both intelligent and ignorant, blinded by the very science that he trusts with, quite literally, his life. Margaret Sheridan’s Nikki and Douglas Spencer’s Scotty add both humor and realism, while James Arness as the Thing manages to convey a sense of terror – both of us as well as to us.

The Thing From Another World is not just a great scifi/horror movie, it’s an all around great film with a fine plot, top notch acting, and snappy dialogue. Although tame by today’s standards, it is required viewing for fans of classic science fiction and horror.

9/10 claws

HALLOWEEN HORRORS: The Thing From Another World (1951)

The Film That Inspired John Carpenter's The Thing

By Woofer McWooferson

The Thing From Another World (1951) Title Screen

Directors: Christian Nyby, Howard Hawks (uncredited); Writers: Charles Lederer (screenplay), John W. Campbell Jr. (short story "Who Goes There?"); Stars: Kenneth Tobey, Margaret Sheridan, James Arness; Rating: U; Run Time: 87 min; Genre: Sci-Fi | Horror; Country: USA; Language: English; Year: 1951

The Thing From Another World (1951) is the first attempt to bring “Who Goes There?”, the John W. Campbell Jr. short story, to life. While very true to the story in some aspects, it is quite different as well – more different than the two adaptations that follow. The Thing From Another World follows Captain Patrick “Pat” Hendry (Kenneth Tobey), his crew, and reporter Ned “Scotty” Scott (Douglas Spencer) who accompanies them as they travel to assist a North Pole scientific outpost. According to Dr. Arthur Carrington (Robert Cornthwaite), a scientist who has won every accolade the scientific community has to offer, something has crashed about 80 miles away and the crashed object is sufficiently magnetic to throw off compass readings. Dr. Carrington then explains why they believe the item is very likely an alien craft, and the a group soon sets out to recover what they can. After a disastrous attempt to remove the ship with thermite, they busy themselves with manually recoving a frozen being that must have come from the craft. What follows is their struggle to deal with the being when it is accidentally thawed and it returns to life, attacking the gathered and their sled dogs (Siberian Huskies) with impunity. While the main plot involves the craft and creature, there is a subplot involving Pat and Nikki (Margaret Sheridan) Dr. Carrington's secretary. This may seem distracting at first, but it actually ties back into the main plot when Nikki passes important information to Pat.

The Thing From Another World (1951) Pacing Off the Craft

Directed by Christian Nyby, whose credits include many TV shows ranging from Perry Mason to Adam-12, The Thing From Another World has many hallmarks of a Howard Hawks (Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, Scarface) film, such as multiple simultaneous conversations. Hawks was producer as well as Nyby's mentor, so it seems highly appropriate that it would be very Hawksesque. Nevertheless, the film received criticism and many accused it of being directed by Hawks who, they believed, allowed Nyby to put his name to it. The film is quick and crisp and trimmed of any possible fat. Even the scenes between Nikki and Pat do not feel forced or irrelevant. On the contrary, they help establish character as well as setting by showing the different ways they and others react to the situation as it escalates.

Kenneth Tobey (Hellraiser: Bloodline, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine) is confident and charismatic as the captain who must consider and the safety of everyone with the regulations and orders from his higher ups, all while handling Dr. Carrington and his ego. Robert Cornthwaite's portrayal of Dr. Carrington, a scientist whose faith is rooted solely in the scientific community and whose reputation is impeccable is right on the nose. He is both intelligent and ignorant, blinded by the very science that he trusts with, quite literally, his life. Margaret Sheridan's Nikki and Douglas Spencer's Scotty add both humor and realism, while James Arness as the Thing manages to convey a sense of terror – both of us as well as to us.

The Thing From Another World is not just a great scifi/horror movie, it's an all around great film with a fine plot, top notch acting, and snappy dialogue. Although tame by today's standards, it is required viewing for fans of classic science fiction and horror.

9/10 claws

Posted by Alan Smithee in MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 1 comment