The Man from Planet X (1951)

Article #1207 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 7-4-2004
Posting Date: 12-1-2004
Directed by Edgar G. Ulmer
Featuring Robert Clarke, Margaret Field, Raymond Bond

An American reporter visits a professor living on an island near Scotland to get a report on a planet that is nearing Earth. He then encounters a resident of that planet who has landed on the moors.

Is this the first non-serial alien invasion movie? It’s closest competition may be THE THING (FROM ANOTHER WORLD), but this one appears to have made it to theaters first. At any rate, if you want to appreciate Edgar G. Ulmer’s skill, this isn’t a bad place to start; it was shot for around $50,000, and though it does look a little on the cheapish side, it certainly looks more expensive than that. The Scottish moors that serve as the backdrop for the action are very memorable; the thick, eerie fog gives the movie more of the feel of a horror movie than other science fiction movies of the era. The story is a bit uneven, and it never quite builds up the suspense it needs in the second half of the movie, but it’s still fairly interesting, and it contains an excellent performance from William Schallert as an unscrupulous scientist who decides to use the visitor for his own purposes. There’s also a bit of ambiguity as to the alien’s motives; was he planning on an invasion from square one, or did the attack from Dr. Mears make him decide on that route? This one is definitely worth catching. Incidentally, Margaret Field was the mother of actress Sally Field.

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