Quatermass and the Pit (1958)

Article 2181 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 3-6-2007
Posting Date: 8-2-2007
Directed by Rudolph Cartier
Featuring Andre Morell, Cec Linder, Anthony Bushell

Professor Quatermass becomes involved in an investigation of the remains of ancient mammals discovered in a digging in London. When further digging yields a large container, authorities believe it is a bomb, but Quatermass comes to believe it was a spacecraft from another planet that played a role in the evolution of humanity. However, there are more increasingly sinister discoveries to be made…

My version of this British TV serial was edited together into a single whole with only an intermission to mark a breaking point; nevertheless, I chose to watch it in thirty minute increments, partially because that was the way it was originally planned and partially because it spared me from watching the whole three hours in one sitting.

At least part of the reason I feel pretty lukewarm about serials that were made for the movies is that they lacked the ambition of TV serials like this. Granted, most cinematic serials were made with the full knowledge that they were only a secondary attraction. The TV serials of Nigel Kneale were not throwaways; this one takes advantage of its running time by coming up with an elaborate and sophisticated plot which covers a vast range of subjects, including the origin and psychology of man, the conflicts between science and superstition (and the similarities as well), and the uneasy partnership between science and the military. The acting is excellent throughout, with the three leads particularly memorable. I think the show “Doctor Who” shows a great deal of influence from these Quatermass serials, and I suspect that this is one of those stories that simply grows deeper on repeated viewings. Quite frankly, it may be one of the finest science fiction presentations ever.


1 Comment

  1. I never had a problem with Brian Donlevy’s portayal of Dr Quatermass until I saw Andre Morell’s. Also, I always preferred N.Kneale’s THE ABOMINABLE SNOWMAN to any of the three cinematic Quatermass films. But, this serial is like you said one of the finest SF things ever done.

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