The Thing from Another World Blu-ray Review

Highly recommended 4 Stars

The Thing from Another World is a compelling combination of science fiction and horror which holds up well 67 years after its release. An RKO release, this fine Blu-ray release from the Warner Archive, restored to its full 87-minute running time, will bring a smile to every fan of the film.

The Thing from Another World (1951)
Released: 22 Jul 1951
Rated: NOT RATED
Runtime: 87 min
Director: Christian Nyby, Howard Hawks
Genre: Horror, Sci-Fi
Cast: Margaret Sheridan, Kenneth Tobey, Robert Cornthwaite, Douglas Spencer
Writer(s): Charles Lederer (screenplay), John W. Campbell Jr. (based on the story "Who Goes There?" by)
Plot: Scientists and American Air Force officials fend off a bloodthirsty alien organism while at a remote arctic outpost.
IMDB rating: 7.2
MetaScore: N/A

Disc Information
Studio: Warner Brothers
Distributed By: Warner Archive
Video Resolution: 1080P/AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.37:1
Audio: English 2.0 DTS-HDMA
Subtitles: English SDH
Rating: Not Rated
Run Time: 1 Hr. 27 Min.
Package Includes: Blu-ray
Case Type: Standard Blu-ray Case
Disc Type: BD50 (dual layer)
Region: A
Release Date: 12/11/2018
MSRP: $21.99

The Production: 4.5/5

Tell the world. Tell this to everybody, wherever they are. Watch the skies. Everywhere. Keep looking. Keep watching the skies.

The Thing from Another World is a compelling combination of science fiction and horror which holds up well 67 years after its release. An RKO release, this fine Blu-ray release from the Warner Archive, restored to its full 87-minute running time, will bring a smile to every fan of the film.

The Thing from Another World opens at a frigid Air Force base in Anchorage, Alaska. Captain Patrick Hendry (Kenneth Tobey) is chatting with reporter Ned Scott (Douglas Spencer) when he is summoned to the quarters of his commanding officer. There he learns that a scientific expedition in the Arctic Circle has reported a plane crash in the area. Hendry is ordered to fly with his crew to the outpost and investigate. Scott, who is a reporter in need of a story, gets Hendry’s permission to tag along.

After landing his plane Hendry learns from Dr. Carrington (Robert Cornthwaite), the scientist in charge of the research project, that he and his staff have computed that the unidentified aircraft landed about 48 miles east of the outpost. Hendry and his crew set out to investigate. They locate the aircraft, which except for its tail is encased in ice. This is no ordinary aircraft because its shape is round, and the implication of that is clear to everyone. An attempt to melt the ice backfires when the aircraft is consumed by fire, but after the flames die out the men discover what appears to be the body of a very large man frozen in the ice. They cut the body out but leave it in a block of ice in order to transport it back to the outpost undisturbed. The plan is to keep the body frozen until Hendry receives instructions from his superiors, but the block of ice accidentally melts and the “Thing” begins to run amok. Dr. Carrington correctly deduces that it is not human, but he believes that he will be able to communicate with it. This of course puts him at odds with Hendry, whose main concern is keeping everyone alive.

The credited director is Christian Nyby, although many film historians believe that much of it was actually directed by producer Howard Hawks. Nyby had been the film editor for Hawks on such prestigious films as Red River, To Have and Have Not, and The Big Sleep. Hawks reportedly won on the set for during filming, so he likely did look over Nyby’s shoulder. In any event, the tension mounts steadily until the exciting final climax. The sometimes rapid-fire dialogue is by Charles Lederer (His Girl Friday, Kiss of Death, Ocean’s 11, etc.), and the Theremin-infused music is the work of the great Dimitri Tiomkin. The realistic cinematography was done by six-time Academy Award nominee Russell Harlan.

Kenneth Tobey is sturdy as Captain Hendry. There is a minor romantic sub-plot involving Hendry and Dr. Carrington’s secretary, Nikki (Margaret Sheridan). They had previously met in Anchorage and had a date which turned out poorly, for which Hendry apologizes. Others in the cast include Paul Frees, perhaps best known for his voiceover work (Boris Badenov!), and George Fenneman, the long-time announcer for Groucho Marx on You Bet Your Life. And of course there is the hulking and frightening non-speaking presence of 6-6″ James Arness as the title character.

The Thing from Another World may seem a bit tame compared to the John Carpenter remake, but I much prefer the original. It was ground-breaking for its time and this wonderful Blu-ray release is long overdue.

Video: 4/5

3D Rating: NA

This Blu-ray is not flawless but it is a substantial upgrade over prior DVD releases. As our resident expert Robert A. Harris explains in A few words about…™ The Thing from Another World — in Blu-ray, many prints are missing several  minutes of footage and the original elements were not kept in pristine condition. Considering its history, this Blu-ray presentation of the film is likely as good as we are ever to see. The 1080p transfer is encoded with the AVC codec and is properly framed at 1.37:1. Some viewers have reported seeing slightly more image at the top of the screen and slightly less at the bottom when compared to DVD, but the difference is minuscule.

Audio: 4.5/5

The audio is excellent. The DTS HD-MA 2.0 mono soundtrack delivers crisp dialogue, undistorted music, and is free of age-related anomalies. The sounds of wind whistling across the barren Arctic Circle landscape are particularly impressive. Dimitri Tiomkin’s evocative score is available on CD from Screen Archives Entertainment (paired with his score from Take the High Ground).

English SDH subtitles are available.

Special Features: 2/5

The only extras are the original theatrical trailer in SD and a reissue theatrical trailer (with Spanish subtitles) in HD. Both have some damage, but check out the drawing of the Thing in what looks like a space helmet at the end of the HD trailer.

Overall: 4.5/5

The Thing from Another World is, to quote Mr. Harris, “an extremely important sci-fi film” that “belongs in every serious library.” The Warner Archive has restored it with tender loving care and this Blu-ray is highly recommended.

Normally I would add a link to the listing on the Warner Archive website, but for some reason it is not listed there. In the meantime, it is available from Amazon.

 

Published by

Richard Gallagher

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