Monstervision's Joe Bob Briggs Looks At
War Of The Worlds (1953)
(From Joe Bob's Ultimate B Movie Guide)
Considered the finest of the atom-bomb scare flicks, this sci-fi classic is based loosely on H.G. Wells' novel, but the setting is changed to a little Southern California town, where a fireball crashes in the desert and turns out to be a cylinder housing three snake-like war machines sent by the Martians. These Martians don't mess around, killing three earthlings immediately and then setting out to destroy the Taj Mahal, the Eiffel Tower and--most ominously--Los Angeles itself. Government scientists eventually resort to the atomic bomb to kill the invaders, but it's impotent when faced with the Martian's electro-magnetic defense shields. The only thing that can save the world is ... bacteria. The Martians' immune systems just can't handle it. Directed by George Pal and Byron Haskins, with the solar system created by artist Chesley Bonestell.
© 2000 Joe Bob Briggs. All Rights
Reserved. Not an AOL Time-Warner Company in this lifetime.
For this and other movie reviews by the artist formerly known as the host of MonsterVision, go to Joe Bob Briggs.com
Trivia (courtesy of the Internet Movie Database)
* Reportedly, George Pal wanted to do the final third of the movie in 3-D, starting with the sequence in which the atomic bomb is used unsuccessfully against the Martians.
* The project was secured by Paramount in 1934. Both Cecil B. DeMille and Alfred Hitchcock were considered for directors.
Orson Welles, who rose to prominence with his "War of the Worlds" radio broadcast on Halloween, 1938, was pressured into making this his first feature film, but he wanted no part of it. Filming was halted briefly, two days into filming, when Paramount discovered their filming rights to the novel had expired. It was quickly resolved through the kind permission of H.G. Wells' estate.
* Originally, the Martian War Machines were supposed to "walk" on visible electronic beams. This was attempted by having electrical sparks emanate from the three holes at the bottom of the machine. This was quickly abandoned for fear of it becoming a major fire hazard. The shot of the first war machine emerging from the gully has this effect. During filming, the actors were under the impression that they were dealing with the walking tripod machines of the book. This explains the farmhouse scene when Gene Barry says, "There's a machine standing right next to us."
* The Flying Wing (similar to the present-day Stealth Bomber) depicted in the movie is the Northrop YB-49. Two were built in the 1940s and both crashed. Stock footage was used in the movie.
* The Martian machines were models suspended from wires. For the final sequences where the machines "die", they are shown crashing into telegraph poles - this allowed the film makers to hide the suspension wires with the telegraph wires.
This film had a budget of $2,000,000. Of that sum, $600,000 was spent on the live action scenes while $1,400,000 was spent on the extensive and elaborate special effects.
* Albert Nozaki based his designs of the Martian machines on the shape and movements of the swan.
* The estate of H. G. Wells was so pleased with the final production that they offered George Pal his choice of any other Wells' property. Pal chose "The Time Machine" MonsterVision review & host segments for The Time Machine
* The novel was narrated by the author in first-person. That narration was given to a new character in the movie, a scientist named Dr. Clayton Forrester (spoofed in the Comedy Central TV-series Mystery Science Theater 3000 for 7 years).
* A decade after Orson Welles' War Of The World radio broadcast caused a panic in America, it was broadcast in Ecuador on 2-12-49, causing another panic in which dozens of people were killed or injured in riots!
There was also a War Of The World TV-series, last seen on the SciFi Channel's defunct spanish channel: scifi.com/sabados/series/warworlds:
"Una favorita de todos, esta fantástica serie de ciencia-ficción relata el fallido intento de un grupo de malévolos extraterrestres provenientes del planeta Morthai, quienes son detenidos en su intento por una bacteria comun;pero no destruídos. Ante el peligro inminente un grupo de valientes científicos encabezado por el Dr Blackwood (Jared Martin) y una bella micro-bióloga (Lynda Mason Green) luchan por su sobrevivencia y por reestablecer la paz en la tierra.
LA GUERRA DE LOS MUNDOS
en 1953, la Tierra experimentó la Guerra de los Mundos. Una bacteria común paró a los extraterrestres, pero no los mató. En vez, los extraterrestres entraron a un periodo de largo sueño e invernación. Ahora ellos han resucitado, más temibles que antes. En 1953, los extraterrrestres han empezado a tomar el control del mundo. Ahora quieren tomar control de nuestros cuerpos."
Elvis has left the building, and he took Joe Bob with him.