The Lineup (1958) – Psychos & Innocent Drug Trafficking Noir

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Director Don Siegel is a legend who dropped incredible movies on us from all angles. With so many starring that man Clint Eastwood it’s no wonder they feature high on my teenage watch list.  From Coogan’s Bluff to the iconic Dirty Harry. Then there’s The Beguiled to the delightful Two Mules for Sister Sara and the awesome Charlie Varrick (what no Clint?) to name a few.

But apart from Invasion Of The Body Snatchers in 1956 I haven’t seen any of Don Siegel’s 40’s or 50’s output. Please fire in the recommendations to put me on the right path because if The Lineup from 1958 is anything to go by for more quality from this amazing talent then I need to see them.

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A shadow kingpin gangster uses innocent overseas travelers to unknowingly transport heroin into country. Hiring two psychopathic killers to pick up the merchandise and drop the drugs at a busy public arena.

Right from the get-go the carnage begins to cover the streets as two seasoned cops take up the case to find out what the hell is going on and finding themselves always one step behind the bad guys.

The Lineup (1958) - cops Lieutenant Ben Guthrie Inspector Al Quine

The film is a real rollercoaster ride throughout the streets of San Francisco and features excellent action scenes which include an edge of your seat car chase which is handled with much pace and gusto.

Adding to the suspense is some truly wonderful banter between our two very different heroes and baddies. With top marks going to Dancer played by (Eli Wallach) who was like the father to Joe Pesci‘s Tommy DeVito in Goodfellas, intelligent, unhinged and ready to blow at any given moment.

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He’s not alone in the psycho stakes, as Dancer is being coached by an elderly hitman guru called Julian (Robert Keith) a man who loves nothing more than to keep a note in his diary of the last dying words of his victims. They make a twisted dark dastardly duo.

The Lineup (1958) - the cop car chase is on

The two cops on the hunt are Lieutenant Ben Guthrie (Warner Anderson) and Inspector Al Quine (Emile Meyer). Seasoned professionals with a lot of respect for each other and drop some wonderful dialogue.

Lt. Ben Guthrie – “Jenkins certainly had a great spot here for a Halloween party.”
Insp. Al Quine – “Yeah, no self-respectin’ witch would bring a broom into this trap.”

The Lineup (1958) - Eli Wallach Dancer Robert Keith Julian hit men gangsters

Throw in a cocky wheels man Sandy McLain (Richard Jaeckel), a few crazy car chases, tense drama and with a frenzied end finale you get yourself a top movie which hits all the right notes.

So if like me and you hadn’t seen this spectacular piece of action film noir then jump the line-up and get to the front of the queue (Sorry that’s well cheesy). If you can recommend some Don Siegel films from the 40’s 50’s that would be most appreciated.  Cheers, Mikey Wolfman.

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Bridges Go Round By Shirley Clarke (1958) Abstract Short Film

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Abstract montage of New York bridges to the sound of freeform jazz or electronic magnetic soundscapes? Which one is best? There’s only one way to find out! FIIIGGHHT!

This creative and experimental film Bridges-Go-Round was made by independent filmmaker Shirley Clarke in 1958. What looks like an 8 minute short film is in fact the same 4 min film played twice but with different soundtracks.

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Director Shirley Clarke

Composer and music producer, Teo Macero supplies the fresh and moody jazz soundtrack for the first run of the film. The music has added voices, which gives a sense of eerie populated movement within the city, even though no human beings are seen. This all adds to a very science fiction feel. A futurist look at a city, many years ahead of 1958.

The second part pushes that feeling further and gives the bridges an out of this world surreal feel, maybe we aren’t on this world at all, a far away planet with electronic music constructed by possible aliens, Bebe and Louis Barron. Pioneers of electronic music, they were light years ahead with their sounds and had only a few years earlier composed the soundtrack for the science fiction classic Forbidden Planet (1956).

Bridges go round 1958 Shirley Clarke

The use of these differing musical styles and Shirley Clarke’s imaginative experiments in mixing the architecture of bridges and skyline structures is truly creative and conveys a different feel and mood. The movement and colour changes reflecting the grand scale of the metal frameworks of mass steel and iron is very impressive.

Bridges go round 1958 Shirley Clarke blue

The descriptions are just my thoughts, everyone is likely to get a different feel from their viewing.  I had to call it a draw between the two, I just can’t pick a favourite. Have a watch below and see what you think…… Mikey the Wolfman

Further Reading Links

Shirley Clarke Director

Composer Teo Macero

Electronic Composers Bebe And Louis Barron

Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954)

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Now I’ve known Larry for many years and even though he’s at least 2 generations my senior, the old boy can still party. Well last night we really went to town knocking back the whiskey and beers, spinnin records and chatting about life way into the late hour.  Just as dawn was beginning to appear, Larry started slurring his words and on cue, the ramblings about the whole Creature From The Black Lagoon debacle had to be endured again. I smile, sit back and let him get it off his chest again, really how could I resist that gormless face?

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He still looks as gormless as ever!

Now Larry says he had been terribly misrepresented in the film. Here is his account of the “real” events as he told me, leaving out the many hiccups, burps and f-bombs.

It had been a long day with the missus and the mother-in-law having lunch, I was desperate to get away. The snooker was on at six and had a few beers in the fridge ready. But that old bat just kept having a go, “when you gonna get proper job Larry?” “When you gonna be a real man Larry?” she was relentless. I just couldn’t take it anymore and lost my cool and told the silly cow to “shut your moaning mouth and leave me the hell alone, for F sake!”. Well within a few minutes I was out on my arse on the front lawn with a red hand mark on my face. Fuming I got in the car and sped off to the only place I knew would be peaceful, a place to reflect, the beautiful Black Lagoon.

Swimming around and round in my private little hideaway, I felt calm and relaxed. “I’ll phone Suzie tomorrow, she be ok and I’d even apologise to that beeech, I mean mother-in-law. All will be well come the morning”

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Then out of nowhere, moving above me on the water was the most beautiful sight I had ever seen, smooth skin and long legs, wearing a sexy white swimsuit. I tell you I thought all my christmases had come at once. It was a delightful angelic girl, so very pleasing on the eye. Mesmerised I swam with her, almost touching but just keeping out of her sight line. My head in a daze from her dazzling display I sank back to the bottom of the water bed. Oh my, what a woman!

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Julie Adams as Kay Hubba Hubba

“AArrgh” I’m suddenly trapped, being pulled up. I’m in a net. I can see a boat, called Rita, and onboard looks like a bunch of hooligans. Shouting and waving weapons. Oh jeez this ain’t happening. Managing to claw my way out to freedom I start to feel drowsy as they start bombarding the lagoon with a drug, I later find out it was called Rotenone. Who were these psychotic animals?

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Guns fire, harpoon arrows flash by my head and two of them, in nothing but tight shorts try and grab me. Making a run for it I hide out in my “man-cave”. I get five minutes of solitude before these thugs come barging in and start stabbing me up, beat me to pulp and shoot a few rounds of bullets at me, the absolute monsters. Traumatised I fall deep into an underwater cave and somehow managed to survive. Luckily a few hours later my Suzie feeling a little guilty, came to apologised for her mum, found me and patched me up and saved my life.

Wow! Larry I ask “So the two guys in the tent at the beginning of the film had nothing to do with you?”. “Well ummm Wolfman, well err! well I might of smashed their heads together and broke them in half with my mighty fish claw powers! They were on my land?”. “WTF Larry!!” I say, shaking my head in total disapproval.

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It’s Shabba Time

This is a fun film and part of the big 50’s creature features that came out alongside other science fiction gems, like THEM and Earth VS The Flying Saucers.

Tagline – A scientific expedition searching for fossils along the Amazon River discovers a prehistoric Gill-Man in the legendary Black Lagoon.

The film stars Richard Carlson as David Reed, Julie Adams as Kay, Richard Denning as Mark Williams to name a few.

Directed by Jack Arnold who also made classic like “It Came From Outer Space” and “The Incredible Shrinking Man

Check this and the other two of his, they are most excellent. Keep a thought for Larry the Gill-Man if you do watch Lagoon again or for the first time. (PS Check the real Gill-Man here)

Happy viewing from Wolfie.

Further Reading Links

Creature from the Black Lagoon IMDB 

The Real Gill Man

Interview with Ben Chapman 

The Thing from Another World (1951)

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I had a nice surprise visit from my old friend Yohan the other day. Just popped on by for a catch up before heading off to one of the stars in the constellation of Orion. He’s a lovely guy but total germaphobe. Refuses point blank to take his spacesuit off. Luckily he has a small hole to sip cocktails through a straw but our conversation is awkward, just muffled sounds and consists mainly of smiles and thumbs up. Now I was just about to watch the classic 50’s science fiction film The Thing From Another World and he squeezed in next to me mumbling something along the lines of “those pesky carrot monsters are the bane of the galaxy”.

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Yohan the spaceman, nice guy but can be a bit of a weirdo!

Right from the get go with the opening title sequence you know you are watching something iconic, the way those jagged edged letters slowly burning through the background to reveal THE THING from another world.

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The suspense in this movie is always bubbling up from under the surface. For the time it must of been terrifying. Would love to read some comments from people leaving the cinema on it’s original release.

Tagline – Science Fiction at its Blood Curdling Best

A UFO has crashed landed in the ice at Anchorage, Alaska. Scientists and American Air Force make their way to examine the mysterious craft. Now frozen in the ice they detect a radioactive shape buried with what looks humanoid in shape. Taking it back to base camp the “thing” only goes and wakes up, looking like Kryten from Red Dwarf and Frankenstein’s Monster had a baby, and does a runner. Only to get in a fist fight with a bunch of tough sled dogs who manage to rip off his arm before meeting their maker, Balto.
Retrieving the arm the scientists go to work, only to find out that the alien fiend is vegetable rather than animal matter! It has seeds and you can grow them using blood plasma and a greenhouse.

“It’s some kind of veggie monster, a intelligent super carrot.”

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You even get cooking tips.

“What do you do with a vegetable? Boil it, Stew it?”

Now Mr Thingy is one angry dude, smashing down doors, clubbing people with his giant arms and standing around looking menacing. In one scene, which I have to admit to not knowing how on earth they filmed it, the army guys manage to ambush him whilst throwing buckets full of kerosene at him. The whole place erupts in balls of fire with our turnip getting a right roasting. Surely many stuntmen were burnt to death in that scene? It’s a truly shocking set piece and flames are everywhere, a time before the safety of CGI.

Tagline – No One In This World Can Match The Menace Of “The Thing”

Now can our heroes work out how to stop this rampaging alien cabbage man? You’re have to tune in to see but it’s well worth it. I have to admit to preferring the 1981 bloodcurdling morphing craziness of the remake but that’s mainly down to my love of Kurt Russell, but this one does have a very soft spot in my heart. Especially when after all the carnage and horror Nikki still keeps offering everyone coffee and the guys keep ribbing the Captain over his flirting skills.

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Not a carrot insight. Oh hang on, oh no for the love of god put it away….

Fun Fact – The alien is played by James Arness who was an apt monster height of 6ft 7inches. He later went off to play Marshal Matt Dillon in a billion episodes of the western series Gunsmoke

The movie is directed by Christian Nyby but many believe it is actually Howard Hawks calling the shots and may of helped him out with the credit to push on his career. Makes you wonder when you see Nyby didn’t direct anymore films and went purely into directing television shows, which he did hundreds.

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Based on a story called “Who Goes There?” by John W Campbell Jr in 1938. You can see from the cover art work that John Carpenter’s 1981 remake using the mutation effects might of been nearer to the book than the 1951 version.

There’s even another random version of the book from 1972 in a film called Horror Express featuring Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing and Telly “Kojak “Savalas. Where they bring the “Thing” back on a train. It sounds like it’s a very loose adaptation as you can well imagine.

Be good to have a read of it some day. What’s it like have you read it? Let me know…..  Wolfie

Here’s the trailer.

Further Reading Links

The Thing from Another World IMDB
The Thing from Another World WIKI
This B-Movie Blog Loves “The Thing”

Invaders From Mars (1953)

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Truth be told I’m actually a good friend with one of the mutant guards, the loveable rogue Frank. He’s adamant that he and his friends get a bum rap and are terribly misrepresented in this movie. Every time we hook up for a drink he goes on and on about how that little evil shit Tony the blob, the weirdo in his hamster ball forced him and his mates to do his evil bidding. Tony, sat in his globe, used his Martian intelligence and projected his telekinesis power to control him to do unspeakable acts of terror. After 60 plus years of counselors and therapists, he’s just started to calm down. Stupidly I made a rookie mistake bringing up this blog post and then gee whizz! I have to endure four hours of constant moaning. Doh, my bad.

Tagline – From out of space… came hordes of green monsters!

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Frank the mutant and his co star David Maclean
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Tony giving his “you will obey me” stare

So what happened before the alien beef between Frank and Tony started you may ask. Well young astronomer David Maclean and all round good kid is chilling out watching the skies from his bedroom window. To his amazement he witnesses a flying saucer crash and disappear underground behind his back yard. What follows is a nice bunch of people have a bit of a nose around the area to which they hear a strange eerie choir start singing, them boom, they disappear.
When they return, they have a right attitude problem and been turned into a right bunch of arseholes. Shouting and snapping at everyone. Lucky our young star David is switched on and proceeds to phone up local astronomer Stuart and meets up with physician Pat. They go off on a UFO sighting history talk to get in the mood for the upcoming fight.

Getting in contact with a Col. Fielding they have the gang together and all head up to the sand pit with a ton of tanks, army personnel and explosives. It’s time to take the fight to the invaders and start off all kinds of shenanigans.

Col. Fielding (Morris Ankrum) is pretty much playing the same character as he does in Earth vs. the Flying Saucers. Nice to think of him kicking alien ass here before having his brain fiddled with later on.

Tagline – Murderous Martian creatures from out of space!

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Col Fielding AKA Morris Ankrum on the left

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Fun Fact – Tony the naughty alien blob face thing was actually played by a mexican lady called Luce Potter who was of a very small stature. She has acting credits from The Incredible Shrinking Man and The Greatest Show on Earth. Her eyes looking back and forth in the film is one of those classic moments that makes this film so much fun.

So enjoyed watching this again, that choir of singing voices representing the sinkhole into the alien den is still as eerie and haunting as it was the first time I watched it. Young actor Jimmy Hunt is the right side of not too annoying and holds the film together well.

Director Tobe Hooper who famously made the low budget horror The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and the big budget Steven Spielberg produced Poltergeist had a go at a remake in 1986. Now I rented it from the video library many years ago and remember it being pretty terrible but something compels me to hunt it down for a rewind… I’m gonna regret it aren’t I? What do you think? Have you seen it?

Here’s the trailer

Further Reading Links

Invaders From Mars 1953 IMDB

Superb in-depth article 

Great article about the soundtrack and music score

Invaders From Mars 1986 Trailer

Earth Vs The Flying Saucers (1956)

earth-vs-the-flying-saucers-posterCan a bunch of bubble headed extraterrestrials in wacko suits made from solidified electricity really take on the might of the Earth? They truly have a good go as they whizz around in their pesky flying machines causing all kinds of deranged carnage.

Tagline – Warning! Take Cover! Flying Saucers Invade Our Planet! Washington, London, Paris, Moscow Fight Back!

The title does a grand job of setting this 50’s alien invasion film up in classic B-movie style. One of my all time cherished science fiction movies, Earth Vs The Flying Saucers never fails to excite me and given that I’d only ever seen it in black and white, it was wonderful to see it again but this time in colour. Hadn’t known it was colourised in 2007 and a little worried it would look just painted on. Pleased to report I was very impressed, still think the original B&W feels right but I’m happy with any reason to rewatch this fun film again.

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What’s it all about?  Well two recently married scientists Dr. Russell A. Marvin (Hugh Marlowe) & Carol Marvin (Joan Taylor) spend their honeymoon firing off satellites into space from an American army base called Project Skyhook. This action must cheese off a bunch of naughty aliens flying around with anger problems because they start shooting the rockets and satellites out of the sky.

Tagline – Before You Scoff at Flying Saucers – See the Greatest SHOCK Film of All Time !

Deciding to land their saucer ship at the camp and have a wander around they find the army aren’t best pleased and a gun fight breaks out. These bad boys are not happy about that. Powering up their sonic arm weapons and unleashing fire and brimstone, the war of our World begins!

Helping our two heroes, Mr and Mrs Marvin, in a fight for survival are Maj. Huglin (Donald Curtis) and Brig. Gen. John Hanley (Morris Ankrum). Plus a small band of army big wigs and scientists.

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Even in world destruction Dr Marvin had time to lark about

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This film is really brilliantly brutal for the time. You have a shocking interrogation scene with a rose shaped probe, spy drones, space flight, a formidable body count as soldiers, citizens, tanks, jeeps and jet planes are vapourised all over the place. Then all the major iconic buildings of Washington get a right mashing when the aliens bring down the pain in their UFO’s.

My favorite line “When an armed and threatening power lands uninvited in our Capital we don’t meet them with tea and cookies!”

At one hour and 20 minutes this film rattles along at a fast pace and brings so much fun which inspired films like Tim Burton’s classic sci-fi comedy  Mars Attacks! Be sure to check it out if you haven’t already.

The movie features a ton of the animation guru Ray Harryhausen’s most amazing stop motion effects. Really this is what makes this film pop. Him and his team must of had a right blast making and then smashing all those famous monuments and buildings. If you haven’t seen the documentary Ray Harryhausen: Special Effects Titan I can thoroughly recommend it.

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Mars Attacks 1996

Oh and by the way, the film is directed by Fred F Sears who incidentally made a film called The Werewolf in 1956. Now I need to see that for obvious reasons. Take it easy…. Wolfie

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This guy is no relation that I know of?

Further Reading Links

The Ray and Diana Harryhausen Foundation

Earth vs. the Flying Saucers – WIKI 

Earth vs. the Flying Saucers – IMDB

Them (1954)

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I had my two friends Steve and Pam join me for this viewing of the radiated atomic ant creature feature Them from 1954.  Lovely couple but Pam is an outrageous flirt and Steve spent the whole time moaning that the plot was too close to the real events that happened to his mining colony on the Moon of Callisto. Where after using nukes to clear the tunnels for the easier movement of the iron ore they failed to see that tiny creatures, much like termites, lived in the rock. Few months later the blasted things were the size of cars and chomping their way through the miners. Steve managed to get out ok due to the fact his lizard skin isn’t at all tasty. Oh how we all laughed at that whilst I topped up his glass and offered him one of my Montecristo Cigars.

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My two lovely friends Pam and Steve

Tagline – A horror horde of crawl-and-crush giants clawing out of the earth from mile-deep catacombs!

Quick rundown of plot goes as follows. Nuclear testing out in New Mexico has resulted in these insane gigantic mutant ants being created. Ant’s being ants just want to get on with their lives building colonies and attacking anything that gets in there way. Using the sewers and tunnel systems of Los Angeles they make their way to the city looking to make a nest and chomping through some people along the way. Can our heroes help save the day? Tune in to find out.

It’s magnificent fun, has a good message and it has big mo-fo giant ants, what more do you want? The effects are top notch for the time too. This is sci-fi horror gold.

“When Man entered the Atomic Age, he opened the door to a new world. What we may eventually find in that new world, nobody can predict”.

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Adapted from a story by George Worthing Yates and Directed by Gordon Douglas. Where this film could’ve easily have gone into top ten B-Movie lists of all time. In reality it’s much better than that and took a heap of money and is still fondly remember and beloved by science fiction and horrors fans from around the world.

Also get billed as being one of the first films to use the “Nuclear Tests” makes “Gigantic Mutant” formula and what with Godzilla coming out in the same year I don’t know who got in there first? Do you know? Let me know please. I read The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms was in 1953 which would beat them both. Not seen that, it’s going on my watch list now. Rubs my hairy palms together….

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Here’s the trailer

Further Reading Links

Wikipedia 

LetterBoxd Review

Death Ensemble Review

Them 1954 IMDB

 

When Worlds Collide (1951)

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Science fiction meets disaster film in this planet smashing doomsday flick which gave Roland Emmerich (Independence Day, 2012) a run for his money destroying cities and monuments before he was even born.

Tagline – This May Not Happen For A Million Years….. But Now You’ll See What Could Happen…. When Worlds Collide….

It’s rather depressing stuff to be honest but entertaining nonetheless.

So what the blue blazes happens you might ask, well to sum things up quickly here goes.
Astronomers see that a planet called Bellus is on a collision course with Earth and man they don’t have much time. Earth is certainly doomed but the scientists come up with a plan, Bellus has a Earth like Moon with it called Zyra. With some quick planning and some top secret building they design a spaceship that can hopefully help save a few people to rescue the human race from extinction. The “Ark” though can only hold a select few passengers, picked through a lottery system and that’s only gonna bring a heap full of trouble.

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Buckle up it might be a tad bumpy ride!

When the planet approaches it’s causes a biblical shit storm, bringing tidal waves, earthquakes and pure unimaginable carnage. The Earth is truly doomed. Can our heroes David Randall (Richard Derr) and Joyce Hendron (Barbara Rush) save mankind from total annihilation? Check out this great film to find out.

The film is directed by Rudolph Maté and produced by George Pal. Now George Pal is very interesting as he had his producing and directing finger on loads of famous science fiction film and animation effects. From the likes of classics War Of The Worlds, The Time Machine, Tom Thumb and produced another sci-fi film I like called Destination Moon in 1950. He was quite some guy.

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George Pal sat in The Time Machine

Based on a book of the same name and co-written by Philip Wylie and Edwin Balmer in 1933 I’m guessing the film followed pretty much the same path as the book and might of been considered to become a sequel because the duo had released After Worlds Collide in 1934.

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Written in 1933 by Philip Wylie and Edwin Balmer

This film is on Netflix at the time of writing so come in for a big hairy wolfie snuggle on the sofa and lets watch it together.

Here’s the trailer

Links for further reading

When Worlds Collide – IMDB

The legacy Of George Pal – Sci-Fi Station

When Worlds Collide – Rotten Tomatoes