The Thing From Another World [DVD] [1951]

The Thing (or The Thing (From Another World), as it is also called) had some confusion inherent in its basic make-up from its origins. The movie is officially credited to Christian Nyby as director, but nobody has ever really believed that, since it doesn't remotely resemble the feel, style, or approach that Nyby ever took in any of his subsequent movies, but does thoroughly match the directorial approach of its producer, Howard Hawks; additionally, Hawks all but admitted in at least one interview that he gave Nyby -- a longtime associate of his as an editor -- the director's credit in order to get him his Directors Guild card. Furthermore, in its release history, the movie has appeared with at least three different running times over the years, ranging from 81 to 87 minutes. And to make matters worse, it was out in at least three separate videocassette versions and three further, separate and distinct laserdisc editions in the United States in a 10-year period from the early 80's through the early 90's -- the first of the laserdiscs, from VidAmerica by way of Pioneer, was one of the most notoriously awful laser releases in the history of the format, mastered from a worn, washed out 16mm print that was also cut; it looked like the re-release trailer on this DVD looks, and sounded worse. The second version, from the early 1990's, looked far better but was still missing some material, ranging from a few seconds to two minutes in length. Finally, that mistake was fixed without a lot of fanfare, and a complete version of the movie did appear on laserdisc around 1992. This DVD is stunning -- in every detail, it runs circles around all prior home viewing releases of the movie and even surpasses the theatrical prints that this reviewer has seen; it also easily outclassing the current Region 2 disc released by Manga Films in Spain. It's sharp, clean, and complete, and even the one section that often looks and sounds the roughest, at 36 minutes in -- the romantic interlude in which Margarent Sheridan ties Kenneth Tobey's hands -- meshes with the rest of the movie seamlessly, which is a big improvement over older editions of the film. In fact, the movie looks almost too good at times, the clarity of the image very slightly undoing a bit of the impact of the make-up worn by James Arness as the alien invader. The volume has been set reasonably high and it is mastered cleanly, giving excellent play to the taut dialogue and Dimitri Tiomkin's eerie, unsettling score. And the 87 minute movie has been given a very generous 25 chapters. The disc opens automatically to a simple menu that includes scene selections, the reissue trailer, and language selection (Spanish and French subtitles). All of that is actually a bit of a disappointment -- one does wish that Warner Bros. had devoted as much attention to this DVD edition as Image Entertainment did to its special laserdisc release of the movie a decade earlier, which came with explanatory essays and a history of the production. The Thing had a fairly convoluted pre-history, as well as being based on one of the most famous and respected science fiction stories ever written; additionally, the dispute over whether Hawks or Nyby directed, and the extensive cuts made in the film before release are highly relevant to what we're seeing. All of it would be of interest, and would have enhanced the disc. Additionally, The Thing is very obviously as important a movie (if not more so) than Warner Bros.' Them! (1954), which did get some special treatment on DVD. This reviewer would happily have paid $10 more for this release with those extras -- in view of some of the extras that Warner Bros. has put on its classic titles, for all of the care that went into what is here, the disc is still something of a lost opportunity.
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Overview

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Overall Customer Rating:
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Special Features

  • Interactive menus
  • Theatrical trailer
  • Scene access
  • Subtitles: English, Français & Español
  • Closed Captioned

Synopsis

The Thing
The scene is a distant Arctic research station, where a UFO has crashed. The investigating scientists discover that the circular craft has melted its way into the ice, which has frozen up again. While attempting to recover the ship, Captain Patrick Hendry (Kenneth Tobey) accidentally explodes the vessel, but the pilot -- at least, what seems to be the pilot -- remains frozen in a block of ice. The body is taken to base headquarters, where it is inadvertently thawed out by an electric blanket. The alien attacks the soldier guarding him and escapes into the snowy wastes. An attack dog rips off the alien's arm, whereupon Dr. Carrington (Robert Cornthwaite) discerns that "The Thing" (played by future Gunsmoke star James Arness!) is not animal but a member of the carrot family, subsisting on blood. While the misguided Carrington attempts to spawn baby "Things" with the severed arm, the parent creature wreaks murderous havoc all over the base. Female scientist Nikki (Margaret Sheridan) suggests that the best way to destroy a vegetable is to cook it. Over the protests of Carrington, who wants to reason with the "visitor" (a very foolhardy notion, as it turns out), the soldiers devise a devious method for stopping The Thing once and for all. This oversimplification of The Thing does not do full justice to the overall mood and tension of the piece, nor does it convey the lifelike "business as usual" approach taken by the residents of the military base in dealing with something beyond their understanding. A superior blend of science fiction, horror, naturalistic dialogue, and flesh-and-blood characterizations, The Thing is a model of its kind. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Cast & Crew

  • Margaret Sheridan
    Margaret Sheridan - Nikki Nicholson
  • Kenneth Tobey
    Kenneth Tobey - Capt. Patrick Hendry
  • Robert Cornthwaite
    Robert Cornthwaite - Dr. Arthur Carrington
  • Image coming soon
    Douglas Spencer - Ned "Scotty" Scott
  • Dewey Martin
    Dewey Martin - Bob

Overall Customer Rating

100%of customers recommend this product.

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