Them! (1954)

THEM! (1954)
Article #133 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing date: 7-27-2001
Posting date: 12-10-2001

Strange attacks in the desert lead to the revelation that nuclear testing has resulted in a race of giant ants.

This is far and away my favorite of the giant bug movies, and it still thrills today. On top of the enjoyable performances (James Whitmore, Edmund “Kris Kringle” Gwenn, James Arness, and in smaller roles, Onslow Stevens, Fess Parker, Olin Howlin; also according to IMDB, William Schallert, Leonard Nimoy and Ann Doran are all in there), it is one of the most suspenseful science fiction movies I’ve ever seen.

What amazes me the most about this movie, though, is the skill with which the first third of the movie (before the appearance of the ants) is handled. Even though I knew the movie was about giant ants from the outset, I still found the step-by-step revelation of them to be totally engrossing; the opening shots of Sandy Descher wandering through the desert in shock are exquisite and unforgettable. There’s always something interesting going on, and I don’t end up sitting there impatiently waiting for the monsters to show up, as I’m apt to do in some other movies from the fifties.

SPOILER

I also admire that the movie had the guts to kill off one of its main characters, and on top of this, the one to which I’d become most attached.

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