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cast, crew and summary of earth vs the flying saucers - 1956

Hugh Marlowe as Dr. Russell A. Marvin
Joan Taylor as Carol Marvin
Donald Curtis as Major Huglin
Morris Ankrum as General Hanley
John Zaremba as Professor Kanter
Thomas Browne Henry as Admiral Enright
Grandon Rhodes as General Edmunds
Larry J. Blake as Motorcycle cop


Fred F. Sears

George Worthing Yates
Bernard Gordon - based on a story by Curt Siodmak, suggested by "Flying Saucers from Outer Space" by Maj. Donald E. Keyhoe

Charles H. Schneer

Executive Producer(s):
Sam Katzman

Fred Jackman Jr.

Danny B. Landres

Music Composer:
Mischa Bakaleinikoff

Music Director:
Mischa Bakaleinikoff

Art Direction:
Paul Palmentola

Special Effects:
Ray Harryhausen
Russ Kelley


earth vs the flying saucers

earth vs the flying saucers

earth vs the flying saucers

earth vs the flying saucers

film summary
Space scientist Dr. Russell Marvin (Hugh Marlowe) and his wife Carol (Joan Taylor) are working on a secret missile project, but every time their rockets are launched, they are intercepted and destroyed by the more advanced technology of mysterious flying saucers hovering near the Earth. The alien race has completely surrounded the planet, giving Earth the sixty days to surrender. The enemy spacecraft appear indestructible, and Marvin sets out to find a weapon that can defeat them. The special effects of stop-motion animator Ray Harryhausen are legendary, most notably in the scene in which flying saucers attack the Capitol building in Washington, D.C.

"Peo-pulll of Err-uth … atten-shun. Peo-pulll of Err-uth … atten-shun!"

So bleats the "voice speaking to you from thousands of miles beyond your planet", heralding the inevitable global invasion to come in this cataclysmic battle of Earth vs. the Flying Saucers. This was the second outing by the now-legendary stop-motion effects artisan, Ray Harryhausen, and now another installment in Columbia Pictures "Ray Harryhausen Signature Collection" series of DVDs. After having laid waste to much of San Francisco with his mammoth octopus in It Came From Beneath the Sea, Harryhausen and producer Charles H. Schneer looked to the skies for what would become the picture that, in the midst of the flying saucer craze of the 1950s, would visually epitomize the look of invading airships from another world.

In the nation’s capital, newspaper headlines relay the anxious unrest attributed to increased sightings of Unidentified Flying Objects. Doctor Russell A. Marvin and his wife Carol are speeding to a military base that serves as home to Project Skyhook, a program chartered to send unmanned rockets into space to gather information for future exploration. Along the way, they encounter an actual UFO that buzzes and bobs around their car. Upon arrival to the base, Dr. Marvin learns the fate of the test rockets, all of which have been destroyed in their orbit or have crashed to the Earth. Carol realizes here reel-to-reel recorder had captured the encoded sounds of the saucer they previously encountered and, upon analysis, they find it contains and encrypted message from the aliens that warns of an imminent invasion. The Earth’s only hope is to find a way to disrupt the alien saucers and their seemingly unstoppable death rays before all of mankind is annihilated.

This is classic Saturday matinee gold and makes for a still-entertaining adventure. Granted, the stop-motion effects are unlikely to impress today’s CGI-spoiled audiences yet, unlike modern cinematic achievements, Harryhausen had achieved the potentially impossible: to instill a sense of character and being into a mechanized saucer. His decision to manually animate the saucer hulls results in the crafts depicting an unsteady and unsettling – even foreboding – presence. Then, by carefully integrating his stop-motion footage with stock military footage of aircraft and spacecraft demolition, the result is a visually pleasing and nearly believable display of alien aggression run amok. To the audiences of the 50s, it was their wildest fears brought to life as the interplanetary marauders effortlessly laid waste to people and landmarks of Washington D.C. Even today, the images of saucers crashing into and through the Capitol building and Washington Monument are clever in their execution and make a lasting impression regardless of their now dated method.

The characters are right out of 50s pulp fiction, from the brooding yet determined astrophysicist to the hardened military brass that refuses to believe until it’s nearly too late. Hugh Marlowe isn’t particularly stellar in the role of Dr. Marvin yet he embodies the gutty determination of a scientist unshakable in his beliefs and abilities. Joan Taylor (who would later appear in the Harryhausen effects pic, 20 Million Miles to Earth) shows the sort of plucky grit 1950s women admired, a professional woman who stands by her man through thick and thin. Most fun in the lot is Morris Ankrum who portrays General Hanley (Carol’s father, incidentally) who simply overflows of the square-jawed feistiness of Cold War military brass and who offers us a look into the mind (literally) of the U.S. war machine.