The Thing (1951)

First of all, this movie is also known as “The Thing.” Officially, it’s title is “The Thing from Another World.” It was based on a short story by John Campbell.

Which reminds me of the movie from 2009 entitled Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire“, or as I also call it, Precious: The Movie I Would Have To Be Pushed Off A Cliff To Ever See by Who Cares.

According to the IMDB, in 1996, the book titled “Push: A Novel” was published. The film was then originally titled, “Push: Based on the Novel by Sapphire.” In February 2009, the movie title was changed to Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire (2009) so people wouldn’t confuse it with the 2009 action film Push (2009). In 2009, the book was re-published to tie-in with the movie. But now the book’s title had also been changed to the movie’s – which means that the book is now called “Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire,” even though it is the novel “Push” by Sapphire. So because of what was probably a stupid action film, we have been subjected to hearing over and over again one of the most ridiculous titles ever given to a movie. And what is Sapphire’s last name? Or first name? Does ANYONE understand this?

But I digress.

The Thing was directed by Christian Nyby. However, it is generally believed that Howard Hawks took over. The same Howard Harks who directed, To Have and Have Not (1944), Bringing Up Baby (1938), and The Big Sleep (1946). Charles Lederer is listed as the writer, but Howard Hawks and Ben Hecht are also uncredited writers. Ben Hecht basically wrote everything written for films made between 1926 and 1995.

The script is wonderful, but requires close listening. The actors overlap their lines, and considering what they are discussing, and the disagreements in viewpoints presented, it comes across as natural and highlights the tension. Amidst the tension snappy banter abounds, keeping us smiling before we flinch.

The situation at hand is a group of scientists at the North Pole who have discovered a crashed UFO. An Air Force crew assists in accidently destroying the ship, leaving the alien pilot, supposedly dead, frozen in a block of ice.

As the thawed-out alien lays siege to the small group of isolated scientists and military, a game of cat and mouse wonderfully plays out before our eyes. Heightening the fear is the fact that we see very little of the alien. He’s actually on screen less than two and one-half minutes. Less is more. Much more.

There are several scenes that will make you jump, and a sequence involving the creature, pails of kerosene and a flare gun is still impressive 59 years later.

The music, by Dimitri Tiomkin (basically he composed every movie score from 1930 to 1975) is probably the first time a score was justifiably called “eerie”.

So on a nice cold night, shut out the lights and watch The Thing. I mean, The Thing from Another World: Based On The Novella “Who Goes There?” by John.

Really rolls off the tongue, doesn’t it?

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