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THE THING (1951)

While passing their time quietly at an Artic research station, scientists are surprised to discover an alien spacecraft submerged in frozen ice. Further excavation uncovers a frozen alien pilot. Intrigued, the scientists take the alien back to their lab for research.  What ensues is a deadly adventure for survival and conquest. 

Kenneth Tobey (Strange Invaders) is convincing as a take charge military type. Margaret Sheridan, as the only female at the base, has great chemistry with Tobey. James Arness (Gunsmoke) plays the Thing, a role he sems to have been picked for because of his over six foot height. Many people believe that producer Howard Hawks directed this movie.

The cast includes: Kenneth Tobey, Margaret Sheridan, James Arness, James Young, Robert Cornthwaite, and Douglas Spencer.

Directed by: Christian Nyby.

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SYNOPSIS...

When a UFO crashes near an arctic research station, an Air Force captain is sent to investigate. A saucer is found under the ice. A frozen alien guy, thrown clear of the saucer, is taken back to the station in a block of ice.

A careless technician absentmindedly puts an electric blanket on the ice block, melting it. It escapes outside, killing two sled dogs, losing an arm in the process. The scientists examine the severed arm, discovering that the Thing is actually a vegetable. The thing kills two scientists, draining their blood.

The scientists burn the Thing, but that doesn't kill it. Then they electrocute it, which both cooks and kills it.

REVIEW...

Director Christian Nyby's THE THING is the grand-daddy of Sci-Fi monster on the loose movies. It is considered a classic by all true Sci-Fi fans and we are correct!

The action is set into motion when Captain Patrick Hendry, Kenneth Tobey, is sent to the North Pole research station the Pentagon to investigate the crash of an identified air craft. Tobey, who went on to high profile roles in TV's "The Whirlybirds" and the cult feature hit "Billy Jack" (remember the dad who slapped his daughter for sleeping around?) lends the appropriate brisk, American can do spin on the role.

When Captain Hendry, his men, and the scientist go the the crash site, they find a huge saucer under the ice. They also find the thing, apparently thrown from the saucer, frozen in the ice.

Once they get thing back to research station, and it thaws, two battles take place. One a philosophical battle between the military, represented by Hendry and his men and pure unbridled science, represented by the bearded, sinister Dr. Arthur Carrington (Robert Cornthwaite) The other battle, a real one, is between the literally blood thirsty Thing and the small band of scientists and military.

In between the interesting philosophical and violent, brief, encounters with the Thing, we get some vintage sexual banter between Hendry and Nikki (Margaret Sheridan), the only woman in the group. Sex, (muted, 50's style), violence, and philosophy! Who said the classics have to be stuffy?

James Arness (Gunsmoke) impersonates the Thing, and the fact that he went from this to TV immortality proves that America is indeed the land of opportunity.

As far as Arness' performance, I can honestly say that Dustin Hoffman could not have given a more convincing portrayal, since towering height (Arness is well over 6 feet) seems to have been the primary requirement for the role.

One of the highlights of the film is when The Thing/Arness is zapped by electricity, shrinking in size. A midget was used towards the end of this sequence, to show how much The Thing had shrunk.

Many people believe Producer Howard Hawks Directed this picture, and not Nyby. It has been the subject of great debate in film circles.

THE THING should be highly watchable for many Sci-Fi viewers. James Arness (Gunsmoke) fans may be particularly entertained. 

BEST BETS: THE THING (82) and THE BLOB.